Saturday, 12 January 2013

Jobs for the boys, a chef without a kitchen, and the mystery of the disappearing footballs

The latest roundup of news stories generated by Freedom of Information in Ireland

Jobs For the Boys (and Girls)

A report in the Irish Times disclosed how nine vacant seats on the board of the Blood Transfusion Service - worth nearly €8,000 a year - were being filled by political appointees, six from Fine Gael and three from Labour. Although applications from the public were invited, none of the 28 who applied were appointed. The paper also revealed plans for a direct meeting between government ministers and representatives of the Catholic Church, as part of an ongoing 'structured dialogue' process. Controversial prelate, Cardinal Sean Brady, it disclosed, wrote to new Taoiseach Enda Kenny after the election offering his prayers. Meanwhile, a Department of the Environment report shows concerns in local government caused by the current government hiring freeze: plans are afoot to fill empty jobs for outdoor workers and to hire 200 graduates to fill a staff 'generation gap'.

Bad attitudes

The manner and attitude of staff was the major issue of complaint from patients in the Rotunda Hospital last year, according to the Dublin Evening Herald. None of the total of 104 complaints were about infection or cancellations. Meanwhile, it revealed that expenses billed to the Office of Public Works from the minister's office fell from over €36,000 five years ago to under €500 in the first six months of last year, although the story preferred to focus on the €412 paid on a hotel in China while investigating procurement of clothing for public services such as the Gardai and Defence Forces.

A Chef Without a Kitchen

The Irish Independent, meanwhile, reports that the Department of Education was investigating why retired teachers were being employed by schools, often for weeks at a time. The figures, revealed by the paper in a request, showed 237 incidents. The Department, however, refused to disclose details of which schools were involved. Unlike in the UK, individual schools are not subject to FOI in the Republic. Another story reports the bizarre situation of the hospital in Galway which is paying a chef €46,000 a year even though he doesn't have a kitchen available and food has to be bought in from a local bar.

The Men Behind the Wire

The Irish Examiner, meanwhile, reveals why the Department of Justice spends over €40,000 a year on footballs - it's because the light plastic balls, used in prisons for recreation, regularly end up unusable after being destroyed by the razor wire covering the walls.

Culture and Security

Meanwhile, north of the Border, the Londonderry Sentinel writes that as Derry City prepares to become UK City of Culture, a planning committee set up for the event included representatives of the police services Security Branch, as well as the Head of Crime (a police officer, apparently, and not a master criminal as might be supposed).

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