A SPECIAL adviser to the Taoiseach has said money that was allocated by the Department of Health to trade union Siptu in 2004 was aimed at supporting a training scheme.
Deirdre Gillane, who was a special adviser to then minister for health Micheál Martin, said internal letters and e-mails made clear the €190,000 grant was aimed at providing support for Siptu’s front-line supervisors training scheme.
She said yesterday this had been facilitated by the former office for health management in conjunction with the University of Limerick.
The controversial grant to Siptu is now at the centre of a number of investigations by various bodies and organisations including the Dáil public accounts committee.
The committee heard in a public session last month that money from this grant was paid into a bank account, known as the Siptu National Health and Local Authority Levy fund, controlled by senior Siptu official Matt Merrigan and another individual associated with the union, Jack Kelly.
The HSE has contended that money from this account was used to fund a number of controversial foreign trips involving trade union figures and public officials. Siptu has said it had no knowledge of such grant payments and that the account was not an official one.
Documents published on the official website of the public accounts committee earlier this week show that the continuation of the payment of the controversial annual grant to Siptu by the Department of Health was approved by then minister Micheál Martin in September 2004.
The documents show the minister told Mr Merrigan that money would continue to be provided to support the training of “front-line supervisors”.