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Charity paying thousands to founder's firm

A COMPANY run by multi-millionaire Declan Ryan -- son of the late Ryanair tycoon Tony Ryan -- is being paid tens of thousands of euro a year in rent by the charity he helped set up.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI), which Mr Ryan chairs, has been renting office space from one of his companies since 2010. SEI was set up to encourage charity work among the business community.

However, company accounts show the charity's rent and office costs more than doubled when it sublet premises from Mr Ryan's Irelandia company in Dublin's docklands.

Details of the arrangement emerged just months after the Irish Independent revealed how payments were made by SEI to another company run by another one of its directors.

A public relations company founded by Julian Davis, husband of presidential candidate Mary Davis, held a lucrative rolling contract with the charity while Mr and Mrs Davis held positions on the SEI's board.

Mr Ryan invests in airlines though his Irelandia Aviation company, based in the same Barrow St offices as SEI.

Though his company didn't profit directly from the rent paid by SEI, the payment contributes to the overall rent Irelandia pays for the plush office.

SEI's chief executive Sean Coughlan denied that the contracts with the charity's directors' firms amounted to conflicts of interest.

In 2009, SEI paid €48,119 in "rent" and "office costs" at 14/15 St Stephen's Green.

Spending in the same categories jumped to €106,787 in 2010, including €73,743 in "rental paid" to Irelandia II for six months following its move to Barrow St in June 2010.

Mr Coughlan said Irelandia II didn't retain the €73,743 but passed it on to the building landlord as part of the overall rent.

Mr Coughlan said the sum paid in 2010 included costs related to moving premises and that SEI was "obliged" to leave its previous office after its landlord reclaimed the property.

He didn't say why the Barrow Street office was selected as a replacement. Asked if Mr Ryan played a role in the decision, he said: "Directors for whom a potential conflict of interest might exist did not partake in the relevant board discussion."

Referring to the payments to SEI's directors' companies, Mr Coughlan added: "The board were satisfied that no conflicts of interest existed."

Mr Ryan did not respond to attempts to contact him.

Irish Independent