Letter to the Public Accounts Committee – (19th of Nov )

Dear Chair

I am writing to you in my role as member of the board of the KWETB to convey my serious concerns that the Chair of the KWETB mislead the committee yesterday when asked if the Chair had been advised by the Investigator, Mr Thorn regarding either his attendance and/or his responses to the Public Accounts Committee.
I was in attendance during the discussion yesterday together with two other members of the board. I was particularly shocked, perhaps in light of our attendance, by the Chair’s response, which indicated that he had not received advice in relation to his attendance. This was a serious misrepresentation of the KWETB Board meeting which had happened the previous day and consequently seriously misled the members of the PAC committee.
At Wednesday’s Board meeting, the Investigator, Mr Thorn had clearly articulated that he had
  ‘ made my views known. I didn’t think it was appropriate for the Chair, the Vice Chair or the Chief Executive to appear given the investigation going on’.
The Chair who had already informed the board when asked at the beginning of Wednesday’s Board meeting, that he would not be attending the Public Accounts Committee the following day, nodded in tacit agreement at the time, with Mr Thorn’s statement. Neither the Chair, nor the Vice Chair expressed any dissent from that opinion.  And it was apparent to me as a Board member that the advice was given and received to not attend the PAC discussion the next day. Further that if they did, they were not to answer any questions in relation to the investigation.
At yesterday’s meeting your esteemed colleagues and yourself raised important questions in relation to a number of areas about which I have deeply held concerns previously articulated at our Board meetings.
They include but are not limited to
  • the withholding of information from the board including legal advice received to date
  • the uncertainty around who is solely and specifically providing legal advice to the board
  • interaction and communication between the investigator and the legal advisors provided by the KWETB’s insurers IPB
  • the absence of any minutes for all three private, in-committee meetings
  • the failure of the minutes of the public discussion of the investigation to reflect the debate and procedures followed before going into committee
  • that the person recording the minutes of the discussions held in public and relating to the investigation has a senior role in relation to one of the areas being investigated
  • the failure of the Chair to inform the Board or the Audit Committee, until asked, about the participation of the KWETB at yesterday’s Public Accounts Committee meeting.
  • the potential for conflicts of interest surrounding the Chair and Vice Chairs roles and their signing authority which relate directly to the areas being investigated and the concern about any potential conflicts of interest that might arise while the investigation is ongoing.
  • the failure of the Chair of the Audit Committee to report to the Board as requested at Wednesday’s  Board meeting
Yesterday’s misrepresentation by the Chair in relation to advice he had or hadn’t received has served only to heighten my concerns around these issues and others.
I have been made aware of serious safety concerns in relation to certification processes happening in the construction of schools buildings. I attach a letter from a Mr Sam Deacon of Drumderry Aggregate Ltd who has been trying to highlight serious safety concerns relating to a school extension for approximately 20 months.  I have consulted with Mr Deacon and he has given me his consent to convey the attached letter to the Public Accounts Committee members. He has also made available a wealth of documentation providing evidence for his concerns. 
In light of the unprecedented and unsustainable events unfolding, I am increasingly concerned about the safety of our children in buildings constructed or certified by companies at the centre of the CAG and the Departments investigation. The urgent focus now must be to answer the question how safe are our children and our staff in our schools? No stone-walling should be able to deter us from finding out the answer to that question.  
I respectfully request a meeting with the Public Accounts Committee to correct the record of yesterday’s meeting and to brief the committee regarding my bone-fide concern about the safety of our children not just in the school referenced but throughout the sector.
Yours sincerely
Fiona McLoughlin Healy
Board member KWETB
Kildare County Councillor
086 8274433