Cork County Board chairperson Marc Sheehan is confident that there was no misappropriation of funds in relation to bank accounts which came to light last week, but has expressed dissatisfaction with the nature of the revelations.
At Tuesday night’s county board meeting, held remotely, the major item for discussion was the unearthing of seven bank accounts, consisting of a total of approximately €176,000. These related to the ring-fencing of money relating to hurley-and-helmet schemes and senior football and hurling team holiday funds. The county board issued a statement acknowledging this discovery last Friday.
In a statement to delegates, Sheehan said that he was “confident in the efficacy of the treatment of the funds” and that the board will continue to engage in the current appropriate process of investigating the matter, with a full report to be assessed at the July board meeting.
“It’s clear that no financial irregularities have occurred,” he said, “and we will act in accordance with, and be guided by, the audit & risk committee’s final recommendations. However, it’s a matter of significant regret and concern that information relating to this process came into the public domain and board officers on Monday last, interrupting the audit and risk committee’s work.
“The comment, speculation and conjecture were unhelpful and damaging, but the officers of the board acted swiftly and appropriately to ensure the issue was dealt with in a swift and thorough manner.”
Former chairperson Ger Lane, Cork’s Munster Council delegate, felt that it was important to make clear that there was no misuse of any board money, but he was concerned by the fact that so much information was leaked to a journalist.
“There was no money missing,” he said, “nobody had done anything to these accounts that impinges on the county board and that needs to be clearly stated. These accounts were operated in a good and honest manner.
“What comes to mind is a GUBU situation – it may not be grotesque, but it is the other three, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented.
“To read the front of the Irish Examiner last Saturday, with the heading and all that was in it, was damaging. The detail in it was mesmerising. I know leaks are common but one of this nature is damaging. I don’t know how you’re handling that, but I think it’s disgraceful.
“I’ve no issue with the Examiner, if I was a journalist I’d be delighted with that type of story. I don’t believe these accounts were a surprise to everyone in the county board. I’ll have more to say when the full report is issued.”
Paul McCarthy (Kinsale) agreed with Lane.
“It has to be of grave concern,” he said, “this has been a trend for the last two years or so, the leaking of information to newspapers prior to delegates and board officers finding out about it. This was up on the Examiner website at 8.30pm on Friday night.
“There’s somebody leaking information to the papers. That needs to be rooted out and I think it’s incumbent on the chairman to sort it out.”
St Nicholas’ delegate Jerry Howe took issue with the leaks and the tone of the revelations.
“Presumably the only people aware were the members of the executive,” he said.
“If you’re on the executive and you’re willing to talk to a journalist about things like that, you’ve no business on there.
“This was a nothing issue, there was no money misappropriated and the accounts had no effect on the balance sheet.”
Don Hegarty, Carraig na bhFear delegate, said the leak needed to be plugged.
Marc Sheehan said that examining the source of the leaks would be a priority for him.
John O’Flynn (Freemount) asked if the full report will be circulated to delegates before the July meeting and also sought more information on the hurley scheme as he didn’t realise it existed.
“I’m not sure what shape will be on the next report,” Sheehan said, “but it will have to be considered by the executive in the first instance. I’m not going to give a commitment, the recommendations and learnings for the future will definitely be discussed.”
Earlier in the meeting, county board secretary Kevin O’Donovan noted the receipt of a set of questions from Willie Coleman (Carrigdhoun) relating to the Páirc Uí Chaoimh steering committee and if minutes existed of the briefings that the executive received.
“We would have been briefed by the steering committee orally on an intermittent basis,” he said.
“There were a number of meetings, but whether minutes exist, I don’t know and I will check that out. The project had changes over time and they were approved by the executive.”
O’Donovan also drew attention to the 97 Cúl Camps being run in Cork this year. “This is an incredible undertaking, one which is unprecedented,” he said, complimenting the co-ordinators in every venue and club. The work of Cian O'Brien in compering last week's Rebels' Bounty draw was also praised.