Monday 20 November 2017

College says €1.2m in foundation 'was not taxpayer cash'

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy
Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A THIRD-level college has insisted none of the €1.2m it has channelled to a charitable foundation was taxpayers' money.

The funds were transferred to the foundation in several tranches by St Patrick's College in Drumcondra, Dublin, prompting concern from the Comptroller & Auditor General about the arrangement.

However, the college, which has 2,500 students and comes under the umbrella of Dublin City University, says the sums involved were "all commercially generated" and did not involve any State cash it receives from the Higher Education Authority.

It intends to use the money to refurbish a chapel, originally constructed in 1891 and now used as a resource centre.

The college issued the clarification after the C&AG Seamus McCarthy expressed concern that his office did not have the power to audit the foundation because it was set up outside of the college's structures.

Mr McCarthy, whose office acts as the State's spending watchdog, made the comments at a meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee last week.

He said he wanted to draw attention to the €1.2m which had been transferred to the St Patrick's College Foundation as "it is an item that is outside the balance sheet".

Transferred

Some €180,000 of this was transferred from the college to the foundation in 2013.

The foundation was set up as an independent entity in 2009 and has a different set of directors to the college.

Mr McCarthy said that while foundations can be very useful in bringing in philanthropic resources, it was "important there is clear sight of and accountability for those resources".

But a spokeswoman for the college said no State money went to the foundation.

"St Patrick's College Foundation is a separate legal entity governed by an independent board of directors. Foundation income is derived from commercial activities on the St Patrick's College campus, including concession income from AIB and Aramark," she said.

The spokeswoman said the foundation was established to advance strategic goals and objectives.

It is currently in the process of getting a feasibility study done on its plans to refurbish the chapel. The building has been used as a library, but the college plans for it to become "a flexible performance place for a variety of occasions and events".

The work would see the removal of "non period" features which were built on to the chapel around 30 years ago.

It will involve the repair of decorative mosaics and marble wall features.

Irish Independent

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