Next Tuesday night’s annual Cork County Board meeting is set to discuss the revelation of the existence of seven bank accounts, containing approximately €176,000.
On Friday night, Cork issued a statement acknowledging that the board’s executive and audit and risk committee had reviewed what it termed as “an issue of financial governance”.
An interim report has been issued to the executive for consideration, with the accounts relating to the Bord na nÓg Helmet and Hurley Scheme (€89,000) and the senior football and hurling holiday fund accounts (€87,000).
There is no suggestion of any misappropriation of funds relating to these accounts, but the discovery of the monies is welcome at a time when the county board has agreed to contribute €308,000 towards the cost of public lighting on the approach to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“These bank accounts were not consolidated into Cork County Board’s annual financial statements, based on custom and practice which was applied to ring fence them from the day to day running of Cork County Board activities,” said the statement.
“Going forward, these bank accounts will be incorporated in the financial statement and be accounted for separately. They will have no impact on the balance sheet of the Cork County Board financial statements, as there will be corresponding accruals included in the balance sheet for future liabilities.
With regard to the Bord na nÓg helmet and hurley subsidy-scheme, three Bank of Ireland accounts were used to administer this scheme by the former board treasurer, Pearse Murphy. “The primary bank account used to administer the scheme was the current account,” the statement said, “with surplus cash put on deposit and transferred between the current account and the deposit account as required.
“The transactions through the current account, which have been largely reviewed from 2011 reflect how the scheme was administered from a financial perspective. It has been confirmed that the accounting for the scheme is reasonably up to date, with no material liabilities outstanding. The primary financial statements, making up the lodgements, invoices paid or subsidies received have not been audited, but from the preliminary review of the bank statements, cheque payments and the annual files, there appears to be a reasonable administration process in place to manage the scheme.”
There has been limited activity in the four Bank of Ireland accounts for the senior hurling and football holiday funds since 2012 and no activity, bar bank fees, since 2015.
According to the statement, “The account with the main transactions in 2009, 2010 and 2011 was the senior footballers’ holiday fund. The credit balance on the account increased from c. €15,000 in December 2009 to c. €85,000 in December 2011. This account was managed by the treasurer at the time, in conjunction with a footballers’ representative. The transactions primarily related to funds received through sponsorship, corporate events or commercial activity (sale of photographs and number plates) and payments for holidays taken by the players.”
While the statement accepted that the reasons for creating the bank accounts were genuine, the process could have been better.
“Following a preliminary review, it appears that the motivation behind setting up these bank accounts was to ring-fence both the Bord na nÓg Helmet and Hurley Scheme and the players’ holiday funds from the day-to-day running of county board activities. This could have been better achieved by having specific sub-accounts within Cork County Board’s financial statements, ring-fenced for the stated specific purposes and in that way greater transparency would have been achieved.
“It is recommended that these bank accounts be properly ring-fenced and with immediate effect be included within the Cork County Board financial statements. This will have no impact on the balance sheet of the Cork County Board financial statements, as there will be corresponding accruals included in the balance sheet for future liabilities.
“Based on the A&R committee’s work to date, it is confident of the efficacy of the treatment of the funds and that all funds have been accounted for correctly and have been properly applied. Further governance recommendations may follow in the full report of the A&R committee at a later date. This matter will be discussed at our scheduled County Committee meeting on Tuesday next, June 1.”