GARDAÍ are investigating a Tipperary community development project involving Minister Martin Mansergh’s state driver which was found to have paid out €60,000 to false invoices.
A file by funding body Pobal on Tipperary Hostel Ltd has been forwarded to the garda – the organisation has received nearly €4 million in state funds over the 10 years it has been renovating a Famine-era workhouse in Tipperary town.
The renovation work, which was aimed at creating a centre for tourist accommodation, is still unfinished and funding to the scheme was suspended earlier this year.
The company’s treasurer is former Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Maguire, who is employed as a driver for Mr Mansergh, the minister of state responsible for the Office of Public Works.
Mr Maguire has stated that money was paid out to false invoices, but that no one benefited financially from the irregularities.
The other main funders of the building work, state training agency Fás, also subsequently launched an investigation into how the project was run.
A spokesman for Pobal said the state company, which has charitable status, deemed the findings of its report warranted a Garda investigation.
Earlier this year, auditors found almost €45,000 in Pobal funds were drawn down based on invoices for work that wasn’t done. Auditors Mulcahy, O’Neill, Fitzgerald & Co, said €44,239 had been incorrectly claimed.
The auditors also found the company had over-claimed for VAT refunds by €6,298. They said the situation needed to be urgently investigated by Revenue. The Pobal investigation found more unaccounted-for monies
The move comes three months after Pobal closed down the Dublin Inner City Partnership (DICP). The funding body claimed that this scheme also had major financial irregularities, but this has been strongly disputed by trade union SIPTU who have called for an independent investigation into the case.
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