The trustees of the Retired Civil and Public Servants Association have launched a High Court action over an alleged refusal by the organisation’s governing council to allow them to raise “numerous issues of concern” at a forthcoming meeting.
The three trustees: Mary Farrell, Frank O’Dwyer and Matthew Ryan, claim the motions they want to put before the organisation’s annual general meeting concern the “financial and corporate management” of the association by its current 15-member council and its immediate predecessors over the last five years.
The court heard the alleged issues include the level of subsistence and travel expenses allegedly paid by the council members to themselves, including during the Covid period.
The trustees also want to raise issues about the auditing of the association’s accounts.
They claim there has also been a failure by the council to appoint auditors to the association in a manner specified under the body’s own rules and a lack of audited accounts for 2022.
Other issues raised by the trustees include the alleged operation of unauthorised accounts by members at county level and an alleged practise of pre-signed cheques.
The trustees also seek to raise the organisation’s alleged exposure to a tax liability, resulting in a settlement of €30,000, following a protected disclosure.
There has also been an alleged destruction of data relevant to the association, and the removal of data from the jurisdiction which may have General Data Protection Regulation consequences.
The trustees have also sought to raise why they have been “censured and alienated” for questioning the organisation’s 2019 accounts, which they claim were not audited, and why untrue allegations were made against the plaintiffs regarding expenses.
The association’s AGM is due to take place on Tuesday, December 12th, at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin city centre.
The association was founded in 1945 and its members include retired workers with bodies including An Post, Coillte, Teagasc and other approved organisations.
The plaintiffs say that despite their requests to have their concerns put by way of several motions before the AGM, the defendant council has failed to permit them to do so.
The court heard the council has said in correspondence with the trustees’ solicitor that the discussion of such affairs at the AGM could be “defamatory”.
The plaintiff trustees reject that argument and say they are being effectively “gagged” by the council.
The trustees say their arguments are legitimate and they should be allowed to take steps to protect the interests of the organisation’s membership.
Any failure to discuss these matters could damage the organisation, it is also claimed.
Represented by Peadar O’Maolain BL, instructed by solicitor John Geary, the trustees seek various orders against the council including an injunction compelling the council to allow several motions go before the AGM.
Counsel said the upcoming AGM is the first one held by the organisation since 2019.
The matter was mentioned before Mr Justice Mark Sanfey on Friday while only the plaintiffs were represented in court and aware of the application.
The judge gave the plaintiffs permission to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on the defendants.
The matter will return to court next week.
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