Farrell calls on Martin to make statement as McGuinness confirms complete lack of oversight on €250,000 office spend

03/04/2013

Public Accounts Committee Chair blames civil servants for €250,000 spend of refurbishment of his Ministerial office

Fine Gael TD for Dublin North, Alan Farrell, has today (Wednesday) called upon Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to clarify if he has confidence in John McGuinness as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

Deputy Farrell’s comments come as Deputy McGuinness confirmed that he asked no questions, sought no report, and paid no attention whatsoever to the expenditure of over €250,000 on refurbishing his office while he was a Minister of State.

“While John McGuinness was a Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, the private sector started losing 90,000 jobs per year.  Today, once again, we have learned a lot about his attitude to Ministerial office and the reasons for the difficulties that so many people across the country are facing today.

“In a statement to the Daily Mail about the expenditure of €250,000 on refurbishing his office, John McGuinness says: ‘At no time did I see any costs nor was I asked to approve the details. I presumed, as would be normal procedure, that department officials would oversee the costs of such projects, ensuring that they are within budget and adhering to all value for money guidelines.

“If John McGuinness, as Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, failed to ask any questions, seek any report or exercise any Ministerial oversight over a major refurbishing job on his own office costing €250,000, we can only imagine what else he failed to pay any attention to while in Ministerial office. This lack of regard for State funding calls into question his suitability for the role of Chair of the Public Accounts Committee whose job it is to ensure that public funds are properly spent.

“This entire episode shines a very revealing light on the attitude of key Fianna Fáil Ministers to Ministerial responsibility while in Government, and tells us a lot about why so many people across the country are facing such serious difficulties today.

“John McGuinness confirms today that, while a Minister, he failed to exercise even the most basic level of oversight over spending on his own office. He said to the Irish Independent yesterday that he didn’t know the costs until this week. Yet this is the man who Micheál Martin has chosen to be Fianna Fáil’s nominee as chair of the Public Accounts Committee, which is responsible for overseeing and scrutinising public spending right across Government.

“I call upon Micheál Martin to make a statement and say whether, in light of these revelations, he has confidence in John McGuinness as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.”

ENDS