Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said Taoiseach Brian Cowen is defending the indefensible payment of a €1 million golden handshake to former FÁS chief Rody Molloy. Ó Caoláin said it was "breathtaking" that the Taoiseach could defend this payment as 'fair', while also seeking to deny that the payment was made as a result of the threat of legal action by Mr. Molloy.
Ó Caoláin also described the Fianna Fáil/Green Government as “hypocritical” over its surrender to Rody Molloy’s threat of legal action while at the same time the State fought parents of children with special needs through the courts at huge cost.
Ó Caoláin said:
"Whether Mr. Molloy uttered the threat of legal action or not, that threat was clearly present. Taoiseach Cowen on the RTÉ This Week programme has tried to play this down as the main factor in securing Mr. Molloy's golden handshake. However, on RTÉ’s Saturday View Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the complete opposite, offering the threat of legal action as the only defence for awarding Mr. Molloy what Minister Ahern called ‘an extra few pounds’.
"The Taoiseach is defending the indefensible and it is breathtaking that he should describe the payment to Mr. Molloy as 'fair'.
“The Fianna Fáil/Green Government is also grossly hypocritical in surrendering to Rody Molloy’s blackmail threat of legal action if he did not receive his €1 million golden handshake.
“The Government has fought parents of children with special needs who took legal action to try to achieve the right to education for their children. Had the Government provided the special needs education services so sadly lacking here, such legal actions would never have been necessary.
“In the five years up to 2006 nearly €20 million was paid out by the Department of Education arising from these legal battles which the Government chose to engage in. This figure does not include legal costs. (Note to editor: information from ministerial reply to Dáil Question from Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe, April 2006).
“The Government is in complete disarray over the FÁS scandal, has lost every shred of credibility and should resign.” ENDS