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04 Oct 2022

WATCH: RTÉ probe reveals the Irish county councils under garda investigation

RTÉ Investigates has spent the last six months examining how local authorities go about their business. RTÉ Investigates uncovered systemic failures, which enabled false accounting and employee fraud. 

Ireland's local authorities spend more than €5 billion a year and have a huge range of responsibilities from housing to waste; roads to parks; and planning to tourism, yet they are subject to very little external oversight. Councils remain outside oversight bodies like the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee.

Broadcast tonight, RTÉ Investigates: Council Chamber Secrets looks at how reforms promised after the tribunals of inquiry never materialised. This includes:
 
Why a law introduced to allow inquiries into Councils cannot be used because 20 years on no Minister has signed the necessary order. And how public standards legislation ran aground in an Oireachtas Committee. 
 
RTÉ Investigates examine a wide number of counties and examples include: 

In Limerick...
 
€1.8 million worth of transactions involving Limerick City and County Council and Irish Water are under Garda investigation following the dismissal of a council employee. 
 
In Mayo... 
 
Gardaí are investigating the discovery of forged building compliance certs held by Mayo County Council in relation to its new €11 million swimming pool in Castlebar. 
 
In Galway... 

RTÉ Investigates reveal how the discharge of untreated sewage from the Council-owned public toilets prompted an ethics investigation into allegations of gross misconduct. 

In Cavan... 
 
The council has refused to release an internal inquiry report into the generation of false invoices citing a Garda investigation, which An Garda Siochana said it was not aware of. 
 
John Devitt, CEO Transparency International: "Turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and politicians are not inclined to want more meaningful or thorough oversight of them or to disclose more of their financial interests. It's called local government, but it doesn't mean that it's any less important than national government.  For that reason, public have to have confidence that it's being managed and overseen as it ought to be."

RTÉ Investigates: Council Chamber Secrets airs tonight, Wednesday at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player. 

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