Friday 30 September 2016

County Council rapped and made repay EU grant

Published 24/01/2016 | 02:30

'The local authority received the €42,964 grant from the European Integration Fund (EIF) to spend on a project supporting non-national communities in Galway' Photo: PA
'The local authority received the €42,964 grant from the European Integration Fund (EIF) to spend on a project supporting non-national communities in Galway' Photo: PA

Galway County Council repaid more than €5,000 of a €42,000 European Union grant after inspectors highlighted concerns over how the fund was administered.

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The local authority received the €42,964 grant from the European Integration Fund (EIF) to spend on a project supporting non-national communities in Galway through sports, education and social activities.

An inspection to ensure that the public funds were spent in accordance with EU rules found lapses in the administration of the fund.

It found that €4,936 of the grant, which had not been spent, should be refunded.

Inspectors also sought repayment of an €829 overpayment to staff.

Pobal inspectors criticised the absence of "documentation" to show the council was complying with public-procurement policy on purchases under €5,000.

The inspection was conducted by Pobal, the state agency that manages EU and national funding programmes on behalf of various government departments.

The allocation of two Dormant Accounts Fund grants of €30,150 to Galway County Council for local sporting projects was also examined.

The council allocated some of the funds to local sporting organisations in order to buy equipment but Pobal found an absence of written agreements.

It asked the local authority to explain why it did not inform Pobal that the capital funding provided under the Dormant Accounts Fund grant would be used by other groups to buy equipment that would not remain in the ownership of the council.

In a statement, Pobal said Galway County Council refunded €5,765 in November last year, adding: "All other matters identified during the verification visit have been resolved."

Pobal said it conducted 184 "verification inspections" last year.

Galway County Council said it was "satisfied that all of matters raised in the verification report have been appropriately resolved and there are no outstanding matters".

Sunday Independent

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