[E-voting] Cullen adviser sat on interview panel that awarded
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Sat Mar 6 11:27:29 GMT 2004
>From the Examiner...
Cullen adviser sat on interview panel that awarded e-voting contract
By Fionnán Sheahan, Political Correspondent
MARTIN CULLENS former election campaign manager sat on the interview panel
that awarded the 4.7 million electronic voting publicity contract to
so-called friends of Fianna Fáil.
The minister for the environments PR adviser Monica Leech works on a
contract basis, worth more than 10,000 a month, since being appointed after
the 2002 general election.
Ms Leech was a member of the tendering group which granted the 4.7m
contract to a consortium, which included a company run by former FF general
secretary Martin Macken and former Taoiseachs adviser Jackie Gallagher. The
involvement of Q4 Public Relations resulted in accusations of cronyism as
Fine Gael claimed the contract was given to friends of Fianna Fáil.
Initially, Ms Leechs company was hired to fill the post as the ministers
communications adviser on a six-month contract after the Department of the
Environment invited a tender only from Monica Leech Communications.
Subsequently, three companies were invited to tender for a longer-term
communications consultancy contract. According to Mr Cullen, the selection
process was overseen by a committee made up of a small group of senior
officials, who recommended the tender from Ms Leechs firm was the most
economically advantageous, so a two-year contract up to February 2005 was
Mr Cullen confirmed that since July 2002, consultancy payments made to the
company amount to 135,840, but this was after withholding tax of 33,960
and also did not include VAT of 35,658, meaning that Ms Leechs gross
payment over the period was 205,458 or 10,273 a month.
Aside from her political work with Mr Cullen, Ms Leech is a former chief
executive of Waterford Tourism as well as holding senior positions with the
Chambers of Commerce of Ireland. Describing Ms Leech as a political
activist, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said she should not have been
adjudicating on the electronic voting publicity contract.
But a department spokesman said Ms Leech was the ministers communications
advisor and the e-voting PR contract was a communications strategy, similar
to other contracts she has been involved in awarding.
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