Monday 23 October 2017

Temple Bar trust slammed over staff spending, lack of receipts

Treacy Hogan and Niall O'Connor

A HIGHLY critical report into spending at the embattled Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) has led to calls for the taxpayer-funded body to be disbanded.

An audit, commissioned by trust owner Dublin City Council, found a litany of unsatisfactory issues relating to the use of company credit cards, expenses, and salaries.

The trust, whose job it is to promote events in the capital's city centre cultural area, manages a mix of 28 commercial, residential and retail premises which were valued at €9.4m at the end of 2010.

The audit concluded that internal controls were "unsatisfactory" and said the number and extent of weaknesses and regulatory violations represented "unacceptable exposure and risk".

Auditors found that no authorisation was given for some spending on items such as travel, entertainment and conferences.

One employee had used a trust credit card to pay the property tax on a second home they owned. The money was later repaid through deductions from the employee's salary.

And there were no receipts for the vast majority of the €49,000 spent on credit cards in 2011 detailing exactly what was bought.

Serious consideration was given by the auditors to the use of the trust's four company credit cards, three of which are still in existence.

Following a meeting yesterday, the TBCT board issued a statement accepting the "detailed and rigorous" audit raised serious issues for it.

It said it welcomed the report and had put in place procedures to address most of the issues.

It said 92pc of the report's recommendations were being "accepted and addressed".

The management practices and financial control issues highlighted in the report were now under review.

A separate review commissioned by the council has concluded that the trust should be wound down within three years, a move that would save the council €800,000 a year.

According to the report, the trust, which has 18 employees, had an income of €2.2m the previous year.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy has called for the trust to be disbanded.

TBCT chief executive Dermot McLaughlin, currently on secondment as Derry City of Culture 2013 project director, was not available for comment.

He has been temporarily replaced by city arts officer Ray Yeats, now acting as interim chief executive.

A Dublin City Council spokesperson said it noted the TBCT statement on the audit which was "a confidential report and not publicly available".

The report, including responses from TBCT, will be presented to Dublin city council's audit committee for consideration and approval on March 28. No further comment is available at this stage."

Irish Independent

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