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Cullen Report is indictment of Government use of consultants

27 January, 2005


Commenting on the Report on Minister Martin Cullen and Leech Comunications Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said it "cannot be taken as anything other than an indictment of Minister Cullen himself and of Government practice in general, even though the Report baulks at such a conclusion".

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated, "What will rightly strike most people as scandalous is that a Minister or a Department can award such a contract. When this is for public relations which could and should have been done by the civil service itself the scandal is compounded.

"This report highlights the increasing practice of Ministers over recent years in employing highly paid public relations consultants and other consultants as illustrated by the use by Minister Cullen of Leech Communications.

"The report shows that the value of the contract given to Mrs. Leech turned out to be well in excess of the EU threshold for advertising in the Official Journal of the EU and should have been put out to tender.

"The Report shows that the OPW contract awarded to Mrs. Leech as Project Information Co-ordinator was unique to Waterford and was unprecedented for any other major OPW project, apart from Farmleigh House.

"Mrs. Leech was awarded a tender at the exorbitant rate of £650 per day and the report finds there is "no comprehensive inventory of work done under the contract and monitoring and recording of the work was not satisfactory".

"This cannot be taken as anything other than an indictment of Minister Cullen himself and of Government practice in general, even though the Report baulks at such a conclusion. Whether Minister Cullen was required to resign or not there would still be an urgent need to end the over-use of consultants by Ministers and Government Departments at huge cost to the taxpayer.

"Q4, owned by former Fianna Fáil general secretary Martin Mackin along with former government advisor Jackie Gallagher and former Eircom Director of Corporate Affairs Gerry O'Sullivan, was given the €4m contract to promote the failed electronic voting system. That was also on Minister Cullen's watch.

"It's time the government called a halt to these gravy trains." ENDS

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