A former director of a children’s charity has claimed CCTV footage he has given to gardaí will contradict a claim by the charity’s founder that a theft took place from its ambulance at last year’s National Ploughing Championships.
David Hall, who resigned from his role as director of the Saoirse Foundation last May, had written to the Garda Fraud Squad alleging to have CCTV footage from inside the ambulance which showed a theft did not occur.
Charity founder Liam Heffernan had claimed that the ambulance, known as the “Bumbleance”, was targeted and up to €800 worth of equipment was taken.
Widespread media coverage of the theft resulted in much public sympathy and an estimated €40,000 in donations to the charity.
Mr Hall told the Irish Examiner he has been interviewed by the gardaí who are investigating the matter and that he had handed over the CCTV footage.
“I confirmed in my statement that no theft took place,” Mr Hall said.
The Bumbleance had been operated by Lifeline, a private ambulance company of which Mr Hall is chief executive, but Lifelife withdrew its services last month.
The HSE subsequently stepped into the breach and is currently running the service in partnership with the Foundation. The Bumbleance was specifically designed to transport sick children.
Mr Hall and three fellow directors stood down from the charity in May citing concerns over governance issues. Mr Hall said they have sent a file to the charities watchdog, the Charities Regulatory Authority, (CRA), at their request.
Last month, the CRA confirmed to the Irish Examiner it had begun an assessment of information relating to concerns about the Saoirse Foundation “to ascertain whether further action is required”.
The Saoirse Foundation, also known as Bee for Battens, was set up by Mr Heffernan in 2010 after his children were diagnosed with a rare and incurable disease known as Batten disease. Tragically, both his children have since passed away, his daughter Saoirse in 2011 and his son Liam in 2014. Both children died aged five. Mr Heffernan was not available for comment.
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