Greg Craig: 'not invited'

A ROW between one of the Fás executives at the centre of the organisation's spending scandal and an Oireachtas committee investigating the affair has escalated this weekend.

Last week, former Fás director of corporate affairs Greg Craig refuted claims made by the chairman of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (Pac) Bernard Allen, that Craig had "declined an opportunity to give evidence before this committee".

It was subsequently reported that Craig angrily denied that he had avoided appearing before the committee. He said: "I have not nor was I ever invited by the committee to come before the committee."

However, the Sunday Tribune has obtained copies of three letters sent by the clerk of the committee, Ted McEnery, to Craig notifying him of his right to appear in front of it.

Under Section 10 of the Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas Act, 1997, a person whose name is mentioned during the proceedings of a particular committee is then entitled to appear before the committee themselves to give evidence.

McEnery sent letters to Craig on 7, 21 and 23 October in which Craig was notified of his entitlement to appear but he did not receive any reply to these letters.

In the 7 October letter, McEnery advised Craig that he was identified at a Pac meeting on 24 September and supplied him with a copy of the transcript. On 21 October, McEnery wrote that he had not heard from Craig and advised him of his statutory entitlement to appear before the committee. He also asked Craig to contact him.

A final letter asking Craig to respond to the previous correspondence was sent by McEnery on 23 October. In this letter McEnery wrote: "Should I not hear from you by this deadline [30 October], I will take it that you do not so wish to avail of Section 10."

A committee source said: "He was written to and had the opportunity to come back and rebuff anything said about him. "

This claim flies in the face of reports last week in which Craig was quoted as saying that he would have "absolutely no problem attending".

Fine Gael's Bernard Allen also confirmed that Pac had written to Craig this weekend. Craig is at the centre of the Fás controversy as he was involved in many of the decisions which led to massive overspends and waste of taxpayers' money at the agency.

He was also criticised in a Fás internal audit report and another report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Craig was unavailable for comment when the Sunday Tribune made attempts to contact him this weekend.