Sunday 22 October 2017

PAC to grill HSE about funding at gay rights organisation

PAC chairman Sean Fleming. Photo: Damien Eagers
PAC chairman Sean Fleming. Photo: Damien Eagers
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The HSE is set to be called before the Dáil's powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to be quizzed about taxpayer funding it provided to gay rights charity Glen.

PAC chairman Seán Fleming said that representatives of the HSE should be brought before TDs to answer questions over the controversy over finances at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen).

The Charities Regulator is investigating allegations of financial mismanagement there.

Among the issues reportedly being probed are use of company credit cards and corporate governance at the charity.

Glen's accounts show that the HSE provided more than €500,000 in funding to the charity between 2011 and 2015.

Mr Fleming pointed to controversies involving other HSE-funded charities in recent years.

He argued that there has been a "long litany" of instances where the HSE has not exercised control over how taxpayer funding is spent at organisations it funds.

He said the PAC would consider whether or not representatives of Glen should appear before it.

The PAC vice chair, Labour TD Alan Kelly, said he is "concerned" at the media reports about Glen's finances and he intends to raise the matter at the committee's next meeting.

A HSE spokesman last night said an appearance by officials at the PAC will be given "due consideration" if and when an invitation is received.

A statement said a unit to monitor compliance by HSE-funded Section 38 and 39 organisations - which include hospitals and charities - was set up in 2014.

Among measures in the monitoring process, organisations in receipt of between €50,000 and €500,000 a year must meet the HSE on an annual basis.

Section 39 organisations with Grant Aid Agreements of less than €250,000 must also submit an annual written statement certifying that their grants were spent for the purposes intended.

The Glen board has previously insisted that all grants were used for the intended purpose and it has "no reason to suspect there has been any misappropriation of funds".

Irish Independent

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