Sunday 26 March 2017

UCD bar failed to file accounts for seven years

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

The student bar in Ireland's largest university, University College Dublin (UCD), has called in external auditors to investigate its finances after it failed to publish accounts since 2004, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

Leading firm Mazaars has been retained to examine the books of the UCD student Forum Bar and it is expected that it will finalise the accounts by the middle of next month, after concerns were raised about the financial position of the bar.

The Sunday Independent has also learnt that the UCD Students' Union (SU), which has a turnover in excess of €750,000 a year, is investigating to establish precisely what its financial position is.

The Belfield bar is run by a committee of students and academics independent from the college authorities, but the failure to file accounts for such a long time has caused "alarm bells to ring loudly", said one senior college source.

It has been confirmed that the last finalised accounts were produced in late 2004, and while a draft financial statement for 2005 was completed, it was not signed off.

Since then no accounts for the bar have been produced, despite a huge turnover and it being one of the busiest student bars in Ireland.

It has emerged that financial administrator Dave Carmody, a college employee who handles the books for both the SU and campus bars, has been on extended sick leave for some time.

UCD Students' Union president Pat de Brun, who just recently took up his post, said he was managing matters in Mr Carmody's absence and that it was his intention to get to the bottom of the matter as quickly as possible.

"Certainly, it is not ideal that accounts have not been produced, but it is the intention of the bar committee to resolve the position as quickly as possible," he said.

Mr De Brun said there was no legal requirement to produce accounts, but added that it would be done as a matter of prudence.

He said he had no reason to believe that the SU was in any financial difficulty, but he had begun an investigation to establish what its financial position is. He said that would be concluded shortly.

According to the latest available figures from 2010, the SU received over €700,000 in capitation grants, which was paid out of the students' registration fees.

It made a further €60,000 from its shops, pool hall and other commercial activities.

According to those accounts, the SU made a paper loss of €12,500.

UCD authorities said at the weekend that it welcomed the appointment of Mazaars and the decision to bring the accounts up to date.

"The Forum Bar is a members' club run by a management committee. It is independent of the university and the decision to appoint Mazaars was taken by the committee.

"However, as the constitution of the club requires that accounts are audited, the university welcomes the decision of the committee to bring the audited accounts up to date," a spokeswoman said.

Sunday Independent

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