herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Union boss was paid €1,000 a day just to chair meetings

A WELL-known trade union boss was being paid fees of up to €1,000-a-day to chair a group overseeing the controversial HSE SKILL scheme for health workers.

The fund used to finance the SKILL programme is now under investigation after an audit found a catalogue of financial mismanagement and breaches of corporate governance.

It emerged today that SIPTU's Billy Attley chaired the steering group for the €60m scheme. He is a former secretary general of the union.

Last night SIPTU lodged €348,000 with the Commissioner for Oaths "in good faith" as a result of revelations that money was paid into a SIPTU account to administer the scheme. The amount lodged with the Commissioner is equivalent to a sum that auditors found could not be accounted for. Other cash was used to pay for lavish foreign study trips, taxis and a private pension that was unauthorised.

Despite setting the money aside pending the outcome of its own investigation, SIPTU has insisted the controversial account was not in its control.

A spokesman said that the union had promised the HSE it would refund any money that cannot be accounted for. The Dail's Committee on Public Accounts was meeting today to discuss the issue.

It was further revealed that Mr Attley disclosed that he was entitled to up to €1,000 for each meeting that he chaired. He charged less for half-day meetings which took place every second month. Mr Attley said he was also entitled to unspecified expenses but did not claim any.

He rejected claims the steering group was at fault for not properly monitoring the €2.35m fund.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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