Sunday 26 February 2017

Accountant appeals dismissal from club

Conor Kane

AN accountant with the Irish Coursing Club was fired for being involved in a "cover-up" which allowed a former club CEO to spend funds on his own "personal lifestyle", an Employment Appeals Tribunal has heard.

Edmund O'Brien, of Newmarket, Co Cork, has taken a case against the Clonmel, Co Tipperary-based Irish Coursing Club in relation to his dismissal which occurred in January 2010.

In evidence yesterday, club president Brian Divilly said an internal investigation found the club's books had been "manipulated" and the organisation had lost up to "a million".

Mr O'Brien was suspended in September of 2009 after he was arrested as part of an investigation into the club's accounts.

It was later found he had no garda case to answer.

He was dismissed the following January because he "falsified the accounts", Mr Divilly said. "There was over €100,000 a year for club funds being wasted on junkets. There was something going wrong, obviously Mr O'Brien knew there was something going wrong and he facilitated the cover-up," he claimed.


An example of this was that the accounts were showing €60,000 more for insurance costs than was actually being paid on an annual basis, he said.

"He was misrepresenting our books," Mr Divilly said.

This went on for at least eight years, the tribunal was told.

The former secretary and chief-executive of the ICC, Jerry Desmond (since deceased) was asked on one occasion about a hotel meeting paid for by the club, Mr Divilly said

Mr Desmond responded that it was attended by "12 politicians" and that the purpose of the meeting was to "keep in with the politicians".

The only one Mr Desmond could name at the time was Batt O'Keeffe, a former Fianna Fail government minister.

During the internal investigation they realised the books were being "manipulated", Mr Divilly said.

"There were items put down to cover expenses by the secretary (Mr Desmond) for his own personal lifestyle."

Asked by Edmund O'Brien's solicitor, Frank Nyhan, what his client was alleged to have done wrong, Mr Divilly said: "He was recommended for dismissal because he told us he had falsified accounts at the request of Jerry Desmond."

Money was being spent on "holidays and dining and wining and memberships and so on", Mr Divilly said.

He said the money was "robbed, squandered, whatever way you want to put it", the hearing was told.

The case continues today.

Irish Independent

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