Audit and risk group claims Cork GAA figures ‘misleading’

The Cork County Board’s audit and risk sub-committee has threatened to resign after advising the board executive to inform last week’s annual convention that the board’s deficit is more than €2.4m — and not the €560,000 figure given to delegates.

Audit and risk group claims Cork GAA figures ‘misleading’

The Cork County Board’s audit and risk sub-committee has threatened to resign after advising the board executive to inform last week’s annual convention that the board’s deficit is more than €2.4m — and not the €560,000 figure given to delegates.

Documents seen by the Irish Examiner show the audit and risk sub-committee describe the “decision not to present the overall combined financial position to the convention” as a decision which “questions the fundamental integrity of the Cork County Board”.

The sub-committee issued a report to the county board management committee on December 4 stating it had met five times. “Key Executives (county board CEO/secretary and treasurer) also attended certain meetings,” the report said.

The report stated the sub-committee’s main concern was the “overall level of completeness and transparency being reflected in the 2019 Financial Statements as it excludes the 2019 Financial Statements of the two subsidiary companies, namely Páirc Uí Chaoimh CTR and Stáid Cois Laoi CTR.”

The report states that the sub-committee “believes it is imperative that the complete, albeit estimated, combined financial position of the Cork County Board is articulated to delegates at the County Convention on 8th December 2019. The (sub-)committee’s position on this has been outlined to the Key Executives.”

The sub-committee then outlines the combined loss of the subsidiaries as “in excess of €2.4m” based on the board loss of €0.56m, “the first year of the recharge for the stadium from Cork County Board to Páirc Uí Chaoimh CTR (€1.36m) and the financial losses of the two subsidiaries, which we understand to be in excess of the losses incurred in 2018 (€0.47m).

To leave delegates with the impression that the financial losses are as low as €0.56m would, in our view, be misleading.

The report adds: “Failure to outline the combined position would, in the view of the (sub-)Committee, present a very significant risk to the reputation of the Cork County Board with its key stakeholders and the wider GAA community as has been demonstrated recently in other organisations. Furthermore, it has the potential to damage the brand and to endanger future funding from Government, business, and individuals.

“It is the view of the committee that a decision not to present the overall combined financial position to the convention questions the fundamental integrity of the Cork County Board.

“If a fair, accurate, and complete financial position is not communicated appropriately then the relevance and effectiveness of this committee must be questioned.”

The combined figure was not presented to delegates, which led the sub-committee to write to the board again on December 11.

That letter stated the sub-committee had “issued a report to you via the CEO/Secretary on 4th December (see attached) which we now understand not all of you received.

"It is a matter of the gravest concern that you were not made aware of the report and that the issues outlined in that report were not actioned at the Convention on 8th December 2019 as specifically requested ... the financial statements that were presented at the Convention did not represent fairly and completely the financial position of the Cork County Board.”

The letter adds: “The decision to disregard our report puts this committee in an invidious position and has called into question its relevance and effectiveness. Consequently, the logical course of action is to resign.

"However recognising the potential reputational damage to the Cork County Board by its Audit and Risk Committee being forced to resign, we request the Management Committee to recite the matter by 28th January 2020.”

The executive is expected to try to meet with the members of the sub-committee to try to resolve the situation. The audit and risk committee was approved by the executive on September 24 and by the county committee on October 1.

It is made up of Gerard Lyons, (chair) retired audit partner from Deloitte; Ciarán Murphy, former emeritus dean of Cork University Business School and current emeritus professor of Business Information Systems at UCC; Róisín O’Sullivan, audit associate director at KPMG and Mourneabbey ladies footballer; and Michael Harte, chief financial officer at Dairygold and member of Douglas GAA Club.

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