Saturday 17 March 2018

Hospice charity splashed out cash on €700 dinner in top restaurant

Former hospice chief Mo Flynn
Former hospice chief Mo Flynn
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Members of the board of Our Lady's Hospice in Dublin enjoyed a €700 dinner in a fashionable city restaurant paid for from charity funds, an audit revealed yesterday.

The gathering took place at the Trocadero restaurant in St Andrew's Street.

A separate Christmas lunch outing by the management team of the hospice in Harold's Cross was also paid for from the fundraising account.

The audit of financial controls at the hospital revealed the Christmas lunch cost €662 with managers spending time in The Shelbourne and Tiger Becs restaurant.

It also details a separate Christmas lunch which was again paid for from fundraising proceeds. It was held for reception staff at the Mayfield Eatery in Terenure, costing €135.20.

The report, carried out by the HSE internal auditors, is strongly critical of key areas of financial management at the hospice, saying no staff entertainment should be paid for out of funds meant for the benefit of patients.

Asked if current managers were among the diners, a spokesman for the hospice said: "It is part of the role of senior management to be present on those occasions when the work of volunteers is appreciated and acknowledged."

Former hospice chief executive Mo Flynn, who now heads Rehab, has defended credit card spending by the organisation of nearly €9,000 over five years on wine, restaurants, pub visits and theatre.

She said the wine was a gift to voluntary directors who gave up their time freely and to reflect "incredible efforts". The pub visit was for volunteers after the annual 'Light up a Life' event, and restaurant outings were for work-related events.

The hospice yesterday refused to name the directors who received gifts of wine.

The audit, which looked at accounts over several years, also found the hospice spent nearly €100,000 renovating a house which it was left in 2006, but will not own in the current occupant's lifetime.

The house in the South Circular Road was willed to the hospice by a man on condition his sister be allowed live there.

When she became ill and St James's Hospital staff pointed to the need to make it more habitable, renovations were paid for by the hospice from fundraising money but treated as revenue spending. The hospice did not follow tendering rules in securing a builder.

Elsewhere, a spokesman for the hospice confirmed that it reported the sale of a donated apartment in Spain to gardaí.

The sale of the apartment for around €280,000 less than might be expected led to an external investigation. A member of staff involved has been dismissed.

The hospice said that since the incident it has put a robust bequest and legacy policy in place. It had taken on board all the recommendations of the audit and offered an unreserved apology for weaknesses.

Irish Independent

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