IRFU pandemic funding, MSD’s Tipperary plans and Facebook moderator testimony

Seen & Heard: Dublin whitewater centre and Covid app costs, plus Dolphin commissions

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) was the most successful of the "big three" sports in getting Covid-related funding from the state last year, according to documents released under freedom of information to the Sunday Times.

The rugby association asked for up to €20 million and received €18 million, or 90 per cent of what it requested, while the GAA sought almost €44 million and was allocated €30.8 million, 70 per cent of what it wanted.

The Football Association of Ireland, which received a bailout of €52.5 million in January 2020, later sought €19.2 million from the Covid relief scheme and was given about two-thirds of this, or €13 million.

Merck move

Pharmaceutical company MSD Ireland, which is part of the US giant Merck, is planning to build a new €140 million manufacturing facility linked to its existing plant in Ballydine, Co Tipperary, reports the Sunday Independent.

Planning documents seen by the newspaper suggest MSD could employ up to 300 construction workers as it spends 18 months building the facility. MSD, which employs about 2,700 people in the Republic, said the proposed facility was needed to address a need within its manufacturing capabilities to produce “small volume, highly effective drugs”.

Moderator conditions

A Facebook moderator will appear before an Oireachtas committee next week, reports the Business Post, which says this is the first time a social media moderator has testified to a parliamentary hearing anywhere in the world.

Foxglove, an advocacy group that has been helping moderators organise, and the Communications Workers Union have been invited to attend the Oireachtas committee on enterprise, trade and employment to speak about the working conditions of moderators, particularly in relation to the level of psychological support available after witnessing large volumes of violent and abusive content.

Tracker app costs

THE HSE’s Covid-19 tracker app has cost €1.363 million to develop and maintain, reports the Sunday Times.

A sum of €811,000, out of the total, went into the initial developing and testing of the app before launch, while €552,000 has been spent on operating costs since July. Some €150,000 was received from the EU.

Citing figures released under Freedom of Information, the title says the app, which uses Bluetooth technology to log close contacts that can be can be notified if a person tests positive for Covid-19, had peak use last January. The app has been downloaded 2.5 million times but 1.3 million active users.

Dolphin debacle

Irish and UK financial brokers may have to pay back up to €100 million in commissions from selling Dolphin loan notes, according to a report lodged by an insolvency expert to a German court. The report is cited by the Sunday Independent.

The insolvency application proceedings names Cork-based Dolphin International Group (Dolphin IG) as the administrator of payments for a wider organisation that it described as a “pyramid scheme”.

A German insolvency law firm has commissioned accountancy firm EY to undertake forensic processing of Dolphin’s entire payment transactions.

Whitewater consulting

Spending on the proposed whitewater rafting and kayaking centre for Dublin has more than doubled to €1.3 million, reports the Business Post.

In December 2019, Dublin City Council said more than €565,000 had already been spent on proposals for the facility at George's Dock in the IFSC, but the authority has now confirmed that the total spend on the project is now €1.38 million.

More than €1.15 million of the total cost has been attributed to general consultancy fees.