Some €5.2 million of expenditure on goods and services at NUI Galway during one financial year did not comply with public procurement guidelines.
The lack of compliance with procurement rules was identified by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), and has been highlighted again at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Fianna Fáil Senator, Marc McSharry, described the lack of compliance as “frightening”.
PAC chairman, Seán Fleming, a Fianna Fáil TD, said it was “extraordinary”.
The €5.2 million for goods and services that was not properly procured related to expenditure in 2016/2017 and was for payments to 81 suppliers.
NUIG President, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, has written to the PAC, confirming the university has taken some steps to comply with contract procurement rules.
The PAC was told that more than thirteen contracts worth in excess of €100,000 were awarded to companies without proper compliance with procurement rules.
Some of the noncompliance was identified by C&AG testing and the rest was identified by NUIG.
Speaking at the committee, Deputy Fleming said: “G4S Secure Solutions Ireland Ltd was paid €373,302 without competitive procurement. That is extraordinary. Tomkins and Co was paid €241,074, Micromail Limited was paid €208,989, Core Computer Consultants Ltd was paid €180,100 and Swimworld (which operates the Kingfisher Gym) was paid €127,980 without competitive procurement. I know there are not many procurement options for Swimworld’s tender but I cannot understand some of the others.”
Some of the other contracts identified were with Croí West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation (€128,375); Top Oil Galway (€110,314); Enterprise Ireland (€80,337); Winters Property Management (€52,210); Rent An Irish Cottage Management Ltd (€73,668); A&L Goodbody Solicitors (€38,033); Henderson Fire and Safety Ltd (€50,895); Sharp Alarms Ltd (€86,155) and Athru Consultancy Ltd (€30,504), which provides PR and other advice.
Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said the university has taken positive action since the shortcomings were discovered in an audit. He said action has been taken so that 39% of the €5.2 million total, “is now governed by a current procured compliant contract”.
He said “action has been initiated” to put contracts in place for a further 26% of the total, which amounts to around €1.3 million.
“The university is currently reviewing the 35% of this total (€1.7m) to develop a procurement plan. This figure represents over thirty separate suppliers where multiple transactions have taken place across multiple budget holders,” said Prof. Ó hÓgartaigh.
He added that the university had “doubled its investment in procurement training programmes and workshops to assist all budget holders attain and maintain compliance”.
The PAC has agreed to discuss the matter more in-depth at a later date.
Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones
These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.
But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.
If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.
All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.
You can email that with a photograph to us, to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.
We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.
This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances. You can contact our team for further details at email@example.com
Alison’s Euro Award for Covid information project
The Galway-established online course providing information about coronavirus in more than 70 languages – reaching over 350,000 people worldwide – is among 23 projects from the EU and the UK recognised for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.
The European Economic and Social Committee has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Irish learning platform Alison – founded by social entrepreneur Mike Feerick and based in Loughrea – for its free online course which was developed and published at the very start of the pandemic to educate as many people as possible about the virus, its spread and its effects.
The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the learning platform Alison as the best Irish candidate for the Prize, saying that its project “Coronavirus: What you need to know” stood out as a shining example of solidarity and civic responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis.
The online course was launched in February 2020 when the knowledge about the virus was still very scarce and the governments were still struggling with how to respond to the looming crisis.
With its training programme, based on WHO and CDC guidelines and continuously updated to include the latest information, the Irish platform has given people free access to potentially life-saving knowledge.
Translated in less than four months into more than 70 languages, with the help of 5,000 volunteers many of whom were immigrants, it had been completed by approximately 350,000 people as of September 2020. Some 100,000 people signed up for it in a single day.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www/connachttribune.ie
Covid a whole different ball game for Galway camogie nurse
Galway camogie star Emma Helebert doesn’t shy away from a question about Covid-19 anti-vaxxers and their online conspiracy theories.
“Personally, since this pandemic has hit, I’m allergic to social media over the whole thing,” she says.
A midwife at University Hospital Galway, the 2019 All-Ireland winner agrees that vaccines involve personal choice.
But that choice should be informed by trusted sources of information, such as the HSE or NHS websites – and not random often nefarious and anonymous contributors on social media.
“There are more reliable sources of information than turning to places like Facebook or whatever online forums are talking about it,” she says.
“What’s scaring people more than the actual thought of the vaccines is these opinions that are being forced down people’s throats and they’re seeing it every time they go on Facebook and scrolling on social media.
“My only advice to people who are scared is to do your own research. Go to the reliable sources of information and don’t believe what you see on Facebook.
“Unfortunately, there are people out there who create pages that are full of negativity or full of lies. It only takes one scary thought or piece of information you’ve heard to cling to you that’ll make you not want to get it,” she adds.
Read the full interview with Emma Helebert in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie