Cycling Ireland has admitted sending “false quotations” to the Government in a claim for a €52,100 grant that led the Department of Sport to suspend its access to capital funding for 12 months.
The body, which has some 22,000 members and is the national governing body for cycling across the island of Ireland, insisted it has taken all necessary steps to deal with the issue and is overhauling its governance.
“Cycling Ireland can confirm – independently of any investigation – that it is a matter of fact that two false quotations were submitted to support the application for a sports capital grant,” a spokesman said.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that this was done for personal gain. Cycling Ireland has been severely sanctioned by the department as a consequence of what occurred.”
The organisation was responding to questions about the findings of an internal audit at Cycling Ireland that was carried out by Kosi Corporation for Sport Ireland, the statutory supervisor of sports bodies.
Cycling Ireland, which received almost €10 million in public funding in the five years to 2020, said it had introduced a new procurement policy as a result of the affair.
‘Errors and ineptitude’
The Kosi report, seen by The Irish Times, highlights serious governance failings and “errors and ineptitude” in the preparation of grant applications.
“False quotations have no place in any procurement procedure. That this happened evidences an absence of adherence to good practice,” Kosi said.
Cycling Ireland said the case led to it being prohibited for 12 months from applying for sports capital grants. But it could not quantity the impact – if any – as such awards were discretionary.
“It should not have happened and, as referenced above, a detailed procurement policy is now in place,” the body said.
The organisation declined comment on any disciplinary process but said there was no reason “to the knowledge of the board” to suspect false quotations were used in other cases.
“There are no ongoing investigations into any other transactions or procurements. An independent consultant is reviewing a sample of past procurement processes. This consultant will also review all procurement processes to be carried out in 2022.”
Replying to questions, Sport Ireland said it was “aware of certain issues within Cycling Ireland which are considered to be serious”.
Sport Ireland went on to say the audit findings made recommendations for the cycling body, including some requiring immediate action and a specific timeline for implementation.
“The release of any 2022 Sport Ireland funding will be dependent on the implementation and advancement of the various recommendations.”
Asked about the audit, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media said no grant payments were ever made in respect of the case.
“Following a review of the files, two provisional grants were formally withdrawn in October 2020 and other sanctions were also imposed on the [national governing body].