MINISTER 'BURIED BAD NEWS FOR ELECTIONS'.
Byline: DECLAN FAHY
BAD news was buried by the Government in the run-up to last year's General Election, it was claimed yesterday.
Former Education Minister Michael Woods Michael Woods could refer to:
An email memo is said to have read: "The minister does not wish any bad news letters issued to school authorities.
"Any such information is to be held in the short term."
Fine Gael Fine Gael (fē`nə gāl), Irish political party. Formed in 1933, it was the successor of the party founded by William Cosgrave that held power from the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 until ousted by the republican Fianna , who claim to have uncovered secret documents which led to the allegations, have demanded an official probe into the scandal, which concerned school building funds.
Party leader Enda Kenny slammed Dr Woods for misleading the public by suppressing harmful news.
He said: "We have conclusive proof of a systematic and orchestrated or·ches·trate
tr.v. or·ches·trat·ed, or·ches·trat·ing, or·ches·trates
1. To compose or arrange (music) for performance by an orchestra.
2. abuse of ministerial power and privilege."
The explosive information was obtained by Westmeath TD Paul McGrath Paul McGrath may refer to:
He said: "Bad news was suppressed, good news was invented.
"Officials in the department were under pressure to manage the flow of information at the behest be·hest
1. An authoritative command.
2. An urgent request: I called the office at the behest of my assistant. of the Education Minister."
Dr Michael Woods, who was the Fianna Fail minister at the time, has denied the claims.
He said: "Any delays were requested in order to get more money for school buildings."
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern defended his colleague, but said officials had "put an overly negative spin on events". Mr Ahern also dismissed demands for an inquiry into the behaviour of civil servants in the Education Department.
But Mr McGrath said: "This information clearly shows Dr Woods manipulated the Secondary Schools Building Programme for political gain before last year's election.
"An internal email dated April 3 - one month before Election 2002 - was sent from an official in the Department of Education's Schools Building Programme.
"It was sent to colleagues in the office and reminds staff that the minister wants to stop any 'bad news' being sent out in relation to projects.
"This Government, now in its seventh year in charge, clearly has no sense of how to manage a capital building programme in an efficient and equitable way."
UNDER FIRE: Michael Woods; ANGER: Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny