Concerns after bill for 'Rebel Week' came to more than €550,000
A WEEK-LONG celebration of all things 'Cork' ended up costing the county's local authorities more than €550,000, with major concerns raised about how the spending was incurred.
The Local Government Auditor has found that the company which ran the event was selected without going through a tender process in breach of national and EU rules, and that additional costs were paid without written contracts.
During October 2013, as part of 'The Gathering' drive to encourage tourists to come to Ireland, Cork city and county councils hosted 'Cork Rebel Week'.
As part of it, the city council in partnership with the county council engaged a company to manage and organise events.
The auditor found the firm was selected "without recourse to a formal tendering process" as required, also noting the signed contract included a condition that the city council should not "under any circumstances" pay any sums in excess of €117,500 unless "further sponsorship was agreed in writing".
But the auditor found the city council's portion of total payments made to the promoter company increased to some €260,000, despite the absence of a written contract.
A number of sub-contractors were hired by the promoters and paid "significant amounts", with no evidence they were asked to tender.
"I have advised the chief executive (of Cork City Council) that an internal review is now required to determine the adequacies of the procedures and internal controls that were adopted for this project," the auditor said.
The council said the event was organised with the county council and in association with Fáilte Ireland as part of a bid to host the "second largest event" outside Dublin.
"The event itself was very successful in achieving its objectives," it said, but added that "normal procedures and controls" did not operate as effectively as they usually would have.
Cork County Council incurred costs of €310,000, the auditor said, "following an approach from an event management company offering to organise various attractions". The council said future events would be within an "overall framework" which would address issues raised.