File photo: Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy is concerned about the legal bill
A report on a controversial €82k legal bill is to be presented to the board of the Kildare and Wicklow Education Training Board (KWETB) this morning at a meeting at Aras Chill Dara in Naas.
Previous KWETB meetings were told that legal advice was required due to an ongoing investigation into the financial affairs of the KWETB by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy said the board was informed of bill at the December meeting. Cllr Jennifer Whitmore asked why the board was being asked to pay for legal files the members had repeatedly asked for, but been denied access to. The chairman at that time had told the board members they would be able to access them.
In February, Cllr McLoughlin Healy informed the Chair that in order to comply with the code of governance the board must first discuss the need for independent professional advice, value for money for the tax-payer and then pass a resolution to hire the advice.
“By the time the board were made aware that there was an investigation pending or that legal advice was even necessary, almost €40K was due in legal fees. That begged the question how a board, which was not aware it had engaged legal advisors or was receiving legal advice, could be liable for the fee. Board members had also asked how or why they were repeatedly denied access to the legal files for which they were being asked to pay,” said Cllr McLoughlin Healy.
“That the bill was paid before the next board meeting in January 2018 while the board was still awaiting answers to these and other questions was a major shock and resulted in significant outrage from some of our members.”
She said she hoped the report will clarify why there was a rush to pay the bill despite unanswered queries and the fact that the board had the option of referring the bill to the Taxing Master.