The HSE contributed more than €1m to a charity where the parents of the chief executive received payments in excess of €84.000 unbeknownst to its other trustees.
Ataxia Ireland has been in receipt of HSE funding since 1999, when it received €27,934. The figure rose over the years, peaking at €112,558 in 2011. In 2016, before the HSE became aware of concerns at the charity, it received €84,832. The figure dropped to less than €4,000 this year after the Charities’ Regulator sent in inspectors last November to investigate its financial affairs.
Among their findings were that the parents of CEO Barbara Flynn, Clare and Tim Creedon, who were the founding trustees of the charity, received more than €84,000 between January 2008 and April 2016, even though Revenue had explicitly stated that trustees should carry out their duties without payment, other than reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.
The report was also critical of the failure of Ms Flynn’s parents to disclose the payments to the charity’s wider management committee. And it said failure to disclose the payments meant the charity’s funders were inhibited in their ability to examine its financial statements.
There was also criticism of the fact that the charity paid Ms Flynn’s pension contributions for more than six years rather than deducting the money, totalling €38,500. from her salary.
The charity’s remaining trustees have been given 21 days to come up with a plan to overhaul its operation, including determining if the money paid to Ms Flynn’s parents is recoverable and if arrangement can be reached to allow the recovery of overpayment of Ms Flynn’s pension contributions.
The HSE said yesterday it had received a complaint about Ataxia Ireland in 2016 and initiated a preliminary investigation which indicated cause for concern. It then notified the charities’ regulator.
Asked if the charity’s service would be maintained following the investigation findings, the HSE said “these will be the subject of further discussion with the agency [Ataxia Ireland] at a meeting to take place on August 2”.
Asked if Ms Flynn was remaining on as CEO, the HSE said “decisions regarding personnel will be the responsibility of the agency”.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.