A TAXPAYER-funded jobs initiative paid out in excess ofÂ €90,000 toÂ a ‘ghost worker’ who did not qualify to be on the scheme and never actually worked there at all.
The worker – a participant on a controversial FíS scheme in Tipperary – began his job after forged and falsified application records were created to facilitate his enrolment.
The ‘ghost’ worked on a project aimed at converting a Famine-era workhouse into hostel accommodation; it swallowed €4.2m and was never completed.
It now lies in a state of disrepair with boarded-up and broken windows behind locked gates on which a broken FíS sign still hangs.
During his enrolment at the project the ghost worker was paid for six years – at a cost to FíS of €93,000 – before his employment was terminated in 2009.
Details of the existence of the ‘ghost worker’ are contained in a FíS investigation report into the Tipperary scheme.
The report concluded that during his time on the project the worker concerned ‘did not attend the project site yet continued to be paid’.
This discovery was just one in a number of serious irregularities uncovered. Others include forged signatures, falsified records and work carried out to private homes and projects connected to individuals involved with the scheme by workers supposed to be working on the hostel site.
In all, the report found that there was a loss to FíS of almost €160,000, made up of payments to the ghost worker, inappropriate top-ups to wages and ineligible training costs.
In addition, Pobal – which awarded grants of more than €300,000 to the scheme – lost €86,000 after invoices were improperly used to draw down funds for costs that had not yet been incurred.
For a bit of background on the project, you can watch a documentary I made with the RTÉ Investigations Unit about the Tipperary Hostel scheme here