The probe into money spent by the Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board, which is the subject of an inquiry conducted by the Department of Education and has been referred to the gardaí, was featured on Thursday night's Prime Time RTÉ programme.
RTE Investigates has revealed details of reports by Comptroller and Auditor General and the Department of Education into the KWETB’s use of public money.
A query by the Comptroller and Auditor General indicated that over €1m. has been spent in breach of Department of Education guidelines and in breach of public procurement law, it’s been claimed by RTE.
In a statement to RTE the Department of Education said: “The matters investigated are of serious concern and the Department has referred them to An Garda Siochana. The Department is also considering legal advice. For this reason the Department will not comment at the time.”
According to RTE the reports highlight how the KWETB former chief executive Sean Ashe participated in public tendering processes where the contracts were won by companies associated with some family members.
One Kildare based company, Ashten Engineering, which won contracts is run by Mr. Ashe’s son Michael and his daughter-in-law Jennifer Ashe.
The RTE report added that two contracts won by Ashten Engineering in June 2014 for heating and plumbing work at two schools, St. Conleth’s Community College in Newbridge and Blessington Community College, worth approximately €595,000 were awarded within a month of the company being set up.
The tender period for both contracts was 5.5 days and 10.5 days, less than the Department guidelines requiring a minimum 15 days.
Another company which won contracts without a tender or for which vital paperwork was missing is Erris contracts, At the time it won teh KWETB contract, a cousin of Mr Ashe was a director. Another of Sean Ashe’s sons John Ashe, who is a KWETB employee, also participated in the tender processes of contracts won by Ashten.
The RTE report added that the former CE verbally instructed a building contractor to speed up works, in breach of guidelines.
RTE also claimed that the Mr. Ashe agreed cost overruns with a building contractor in the absence of the project architect.
It’s also claimed that another concern highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General was hotel bills for €61,000 in a year, one of third of which were invoices for the K Club where the KWETB held regular staff meetings.