Elements of Kildare and Wicklow Education Training Board report referred to Gardai

Board members to consider report at meeting this morning

Conor McHugh

Reporter:

Conor McHugh

Email:

conor@leinsterleader.ie

Elements of KWETB report referred to Gardai

Dr Richard Thorn, the investigator.

Elements of an investigation into affairs at Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) have been referred to the Gardai.

A report into the organisation was launched at the start of October after both the Comptroller and Auditor General, and the Department of Education were unable to get sufficient answers to questions they had about the accounts of the KWETB.

The investigator, Dr Richard Thorn, posted the report to the board members of KWETB last week and they have had since last Wednesday to read and consider it. 

This morning, Tuesday, January 9, they will meet to consider their response to the report and what, if any feedback they have for him.

 Dr Thorn remained resolutely tight lipped about the contents of the report yesterday when speaking to the Leinster Leader . Yet he explained that under the rules of the investigation, if he encountered an answer he was not satisfied with, he could forward it onto the Gardai. 

Dr Thorn also outlined that he must give board members a month to consider the report before forwarding it to the Department of Education, which commissioned him to carry out the investigation in the first place. He added that this was the first time an investigation had taken place under this particular piece of legislation.

Board members have remained tight lipped about the report’s contents. One board member said she “wouldn’t like to prejudice further action of which there will more than likely be on foot of current findings”.

A Garda spokesperson said it was “not the policy of An Garda Síochána to comment on named individual investigations”. However, weekend media reports suggest that a series of issues were thrown up in Dr Thorn’s report.

The investigator was contacted confidentially by four individuals who wished to provide information to him, and  he interviewed 13 people, including Sean Ashe, the recently retired CEO of the KWETB; and Cllrs Jim Ruttle and Brendan Weld who, until they resigned their positions in November, were the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the KWETB.

One issue under scrutiny was a potential rental agreement which involved paying a company for work done by allowing them to rent space for free. Another was the financial management of vehicles owned by the KWETB. And yet another issue considered by Dr Thorn was the possibility of nepotism in relation to procurement matters.

Mr Ashe announced his retirement shortly after the investigation was announced. At the last meeting of the board before Christmas, former Naas CBS principal Noel Merrick was elected unopposed as Chairman of the organisation. 

It was Mr Ashe’s last meeting. In a short address he said he hoped he had exercised his responsibilities at all times” and that he had treated everybody he met with respect.