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FF Education Minister again irresponsible with Department funds and resources

23 April, 2004

Sinn Fein Education spokesperson Seán Crowe has today criticised Education Minister Noel Dempsey for using Department of Education money to compile information packs for FF candidates in the Minister's area saying it was a 'flagrant abuse of taxpayers' money".

Deputy Crowe said:

"It would seem that Minister Dempsey has been caught out using facilities and resources of the Department of Education for the Fianna Fáil election candidates in the North Leinster area, where he is Director of Elections. This is a flagrant abuse of taxpayers' money when, as anyone familiar with oureducation system knows, schools and special needs children are crying out for funds and services.

"His attempts to defend this highly questionable use of funds, staff and resources from the Department of Education shows us yet again how unfocused and uncommitted he is to the Education portfolio. To say that he provided regular briefing notes to opposition party members is hugely exaggerated to say the least. Responses to parliamentary questions are an essential part of Dáil business if we are to have any transparency at all from the Government but the perfunctory replies we get are hardly comparable to a glossy specially compiled information pack, in this case obviously targeted specifically at his own potential FF cronies in the future.

"Before the 2002 General election, a number of schools throughout the State needing refurbishment were promised the necessary funds for development to go ahead by a 'letter of comfort' from the then Minister for Education, via Fianna Fáil canvassers. Now, again, we have the current Education Minister using his office to promote the Fianna Fáil party, going above and beyond the Ministerial norm in election tactics.

"I welcome the statement by the Standards in Public Office Commission on the use of these public resources and hope we may get to the bottom of how this Department is being run." END

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