The latest controversy to hit the under-fire disability organisation was uncovered after an extensive Irish Examiner trawl of company documents, and comes as growing calls are made for the entire board to resign.
Annual account details of the Friends and Supporters of the CRC charity foundation — audited by Ernst & Young and available from the Company Registrations Office — show that, from 1998 to 2011, the group received €27.856m in donations.
The majority of this — €15.48m — was spent on a still unexplained “provision of loans to associates” category. Just €7.728m was forwarded to the CRC.
The €27.856m came entirely from special lottery, pools games, and other fundraising efforts.
It is unclear whether the €15.48m was used for capital projects, other service-related costs, or investments, or if it is at the heart of the deepening CRC top-up scandal.
A further €56,205 was also provided to a small number of Friends and Supporters of the CRC charity directors — the vast majority of whom are or were also directors of the CRC.
They include recently retired CRC chief executive Paul Kiely, current board member Jim Nugent, and Hamilton Goulding, who is the chair of the facility.
A CRC spokesperson declined to comment on the €20m funding gap, other than to say the Friends and Supporters of the CRC group — which is controlled by CRC directors and whose sole official purpose is to help fund the facility — is, under company rules, a separate entity.
The spokesperson admitted top-up payments came from the Friends and Supporters charity accounts.
However, she said any donations given directly to the CRC instead of this group are not affected. This second fundraising stream brought in €14.506m between 1998 and 2011.
The Friends and Supporters group was set up in 1991. However, the files before 1998 do not clearly outline how much money provided to the charity involved donations, or how much of this funding was provided to CRC services.
The CRC also has two related firms — CRC Medical Devices and CRC Pools — which are subsidiaries of Friends and Supporters. No issues were immediately apparent in their files.
Between 1998 and 2011, the CRC also received more than €200m in State grants.
Fine Gael TD and Public Accounts Committee member Simon Harris expressed astonishment at the Irish Examiner revelations and said they raised the PAC inquiry “to a whole new level”.
“I want to know were these millions spent on services for disabled adults and children or did this money go towards the top-ups of senior managers’ salaries,” said Mr Harris.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the 10-strong board must resign. He was joined by Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg and Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan.
Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said the crisis has the potential to “cripple” the charity sector.