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Education cuts deepen as expenses gravy train rolls on

6 July, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has called on Minister, Ruairí Quinn, TD, to explain what measures his Department intends to introduce to prevent the abuse of expenses at Third Level Institutions.

Crowe referred to the issue at the yearly Estimates Meeting, when he asked the Minister if he agreed that the sum 100,000 euros spent on taxi fares by the Head of Waterford Institute of Technology and who claimed it offered “Value for money.”

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“At this week’s meeting of the Dáil’s Education Committee I asked Minister Quinn how he intends to prevent the type of unjustifiable waste of money that is emerging in the media about Waterford Institute of Technology (WTI).

“Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed details of expenses incurred by the WIT President’s office over a seven year period. These included more than €100,000 on taxi fares – mostly between Dublin and Waterford – and €290,000 on hospitality.

“Added to these excesses was the sum of €134,000 which was spent two years ago on the purchase of fine art along with €23,000 on the revamping of an office and boardroom.

“This revamping money was spent on offices that were located in a new, state of the art, €24 million tourism and leisure building on the campus.

“There can be no justification for such a vast waste of money and the inquiry by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) into this expenses ‘Gravy Train’ must be thoroughly investigated.

“For too long an elite within Irish society have used and abused an expenses gravy train. Ordinary hard pressed tax payers are forced to pick up their tab.

“If Prof Byrne is right to justify spending over €100,000 on taxis by claiming it represented “good value for money” then there is something very badly wrong with the current expenses system and governance that allows it.

“The amount spent by WIT must be contrasted with the cuts that are impacting on key services right across the education sector. People will be understandably angry that at a time when Special Needs Assistants, Language support teachers, supports for traveller children, hikes in school transport costs, increased fees and cuts in student grants, some well paid academics would appear to enjoy incredible perks and privileges.

“I have no doubt that what has been recently exposed in Waterford Institute of Technology is only the tip of the iceberg. The Minister needs to introduce measures that ensure the expenses gravy train is derailed and brought to an end.” ENDS

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