Row over Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board inquiry erupts at meeting

Niamh O'Donoghue reports on the discussion on why a KWETB briefing was behind closed doors

Niamh O'Donoghue


Niamh O'Donoghue


Row over Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board inquiry erupts at meeting

Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy

A row broke out last week as to whether a briefing about an inquiry into the Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) should be held behind closed doors.

At last Wednesday’s (September 27) KWETB monthly meeting, members were due to discuss corespondence from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Department of Education.

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The CAG is conducting an ongoing audit of the KWETB’s 2015 financial statements.

The CAG stated: “A number of matters, mainly related to procurement and capital projects, arose on the audit. The matters have been brought to the attention of the ETB and the Department of Education and Skills.”

At last Wednesday’s meeting, KWETB Chairman Jim Ruttle proposed the briefing be held in committee.

Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy said she wanted a discussion on the rationale behind that decision.

“I can assure you I will not be talking about any of the substantive issues. I will be making the argument for the discussion to be held in public,” she said.

Cllr Naoise O’Cearuil said it was an investigation and he proposed the matter be discussed in private.

Cllr McLoughlin Healy insisted she be given a chance to outline her concerns and accused the chairman of not following the correct protocols.

Board member Noel Merrick said she should be allowed to put forward her case and then they could take a vote.

Cllr Ruttle said they had got legal advice in relation to the briefing.

Cllr McLoughlin Healy said the board members had not been told what that advice was.

She said their phones had been taken from them as they viewed the briefing documentation the day before (Tuesday September 26) and she was unhappy with the way they were supervised.

The chairman said he had explained that he would be informing them of the legal advice when they discussed the briefing.

Mr Merrick said the people who supervised the viewing acted in a professional and courteous manner.

Cllr McLoughlin Healy asked who had seen the documents.

Wicklow’s Cllr Jennifer Whitmore said she had no difficulty going into committee, but she was in favour of the rationale being discussed.

She said the contents of the documents were “very serious” and everyone was entitled to due process. She said she found the information difficult to digest as there was a lot of information.

Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy asked if anyone at the meeting at any declarations of interest to make and if everybody had seen the documents.

Cllr O’Cearuil said: “It’s not your personal crusade.”

A vote was taken to go into committee so the matter could be discussed in private.