In Defense of FAS
FAS is the Irish government agency charged with training and hiring workers for the Irish economy.
Part of their strategy in recent years has been to create opportunities abroad for Irish students to study, as well as hold job fairs to stimulate interest for exiles and others to come back and work in the Irish economy.
There has been a recent slew of allegations against the agency about overspending on their mission, especially on trips to the U.S.
At the heart of it are allegations against Mary Harney, a key minister in the Irish government who was allegedly involved in many of the worst excesses of spending.
At a time of major belt tightening, the story of FAS and government ministers running amok around America created a media firestorm in Ireland.
Director general Rody Molloy resigned last week after the media frenzy. Undoubtedly there was much excess and padding of expense accounts, but on balance, throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not a good idea.
Indeed, Molloy and his staff may have gotten a bum rap.
In my 30 years in America I have seen many kinds of junkets, from government ministers to trade delegations to local representatives. Most accomplished absolutely nothing.
FAS, on the other hand, appeared to achieve quite a lot, or got a great bang for the buck as they say.
A few years back I went to Houston on a FAS sponsored trip for journalists. It was one of the best trips I have taken in America. Our destination was the Space Center there, as well as Rice University to interview Irish students who were developing quite incredible scientific skills at the home of cutting edge technology.
Also on the trip was junior minister Tony Killeen, who had responsibility for science and technology.
While in Houston I met several senior NASA officials, including the head of their space program, all of who impressed on me that the caliber of young students from Ireland was tremendous. FAS had placed them all there.
Speaking to those young Irish people, they were indeed deeply impressive and intent on bringing their scientific skills back home.
The absolute highlight for me was a trip around the actual space shuttle that astronauts trained on, and a visit to their mock up of the international space station.
I remember at the time there was talk of a possible Irish astronaut who could take part in a future space mission, an event that would surely have fired the imagination of a nation.
In addition, I met astronaut Eileen Collins, who had been the first female commander of a shuttle mission. Since then Collins has made herself available on many occasions to Irish causes, and has visited Ireland at the invitation of FAS to teach young school children about the mysteries of space.
There was also the beginning of an Irish colony in Houston at the time. A key figure was Sligo man Professor Denis Headon, a leading figure at Rice University who was intent on creating an organization called Biolink which would link leading scientific figures in America and Ireland.
- Gay teacher fired from Catholic school after...
- Racist incidents in Ireland up by 85 percent...
- Nelson Mandela was against IRA decommissioning.
- Nelson Mandela once considered a terrorist...
- Unionists regret US envoy Haass’ call for...
- Hollywood star Gabriel Byrne brands new Pope...
- Irish radio presenter suspended after anti-Isra
- Top ten negative terms used to describe Irish...
- Irish students told “No Irish Need Apply”...
- Bill O’Reilly slams Nelson Mandela as an...
This is exactly why we need nation-wide laws against ALL forms of discrimination....including ALL employers.Katherine Webb and the morbid depths of US sports 'journalism'
@DaddyMac22: Um, yeah. Exactly like I said. It's a FAN MESSAGE BOARD. Is that what you call "US sports journalism," as the title of thisKatherine Webb and the morbid depths of US sports 'journalism'
@marpag: If you had actually read the article, the subject was the comment section, and the dearth of intelligence in same. However, have fun with youGay teacher fired from Catholic school after applying for same-sex marriage license
Agreed Pat123. The vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual and it is absolute ignorance and crass bigotry to suggest the evilness is perpetrated