Enterprise Ireland approved supports of €27.2 million for firms with which members of its board were connected last year, the agency's annual report shows. This total compared to €5.2 million in 2012. Financial supports paid last year to the companies was €271,000, compared to €3.5 million a year earlier.
Enterprise Ireland is chaired by Terence O'Rourke, who took over from Hugh Cooney during 2013. Mr O'Rourke is a director of The Irish Times Ltd. The remaining board members last year were: Julie Sinnamon, Frank Ryan (now former chief executive and current chairman of the IDA), Bob Savage, Catherine Caulfield, Jim O'Hara, Michael McLoone, Rita Shah, Amanda Pratt, Colum Horgan, Geoff Meagher and Clare Dunne.
The agency said the marked increase in approved support between 2012 and 2013 reflected support to the food industry and specifically to Glanbia, where Mr Meagher is a shareholder.
Enterprise Ireland records all supports or investments or other contractual arrangements involving ventures in which its board members are employed or otherwise interested. In cases of potential conflicts of interest, board members do not receive documentation and do not participate in discussions on the issue.
The agency notes shareholdings in financial institutions that have an interest in seed and venture capital funds in which it is an investor.
The annual report also shows that €8 million was approved for research institutes linked to board members and €5.5 million was paid.