Large sums spent on hotel visits, conferences

 

OVER €850,000 in funding is spent each year on two organisations supporting people who were infected by hepatitis C due to contaminated blood products, but in recent months the HSE has been asking the organisations to specify exactly where this money is going.

Correspondence between the HSE and the two groups, Transfusion Positive and Positive Action, from June last year up until the end of February reveals that the organisations spent €156,000 and €99,000 respectively on weekends away and conferences in 2010.

Both organisations provided detailed breakdowns of expenses incurred over the course of the year. Transfusion Positive facilitated five trips for its members and non-infected family members over the course of the year.

These included a weekend away in Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, Co Meath, in January 2010 for 50 of its members, nine therapists and one facilitator costing €22,627. This included conference expenses of €7,907; accommodation costs totalling €9,710; room hire of €900; a band costing €400; “pool table” rental listed as €364 and golf totalling €110. The remaining €6,000 was incurred in “complementary therapy costs”.

Another trip by 34 members, 91 family members, 17 therapists and two facilitators to Woodlands House Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick, in April incurred costs of €41,469.

This included hotel costs of almost €26,000 including: complementary therapy costs of €11,680; gifts/golf/workshops/children’s activities totalling €3,215 and golf costing €560.

Among the items listed on invoices included for the weekend are 19 gift cards worth €15 each from Lifestyle Sports and an invoice from Carraig Donn Shopping Centre in Swords for four Claddagh rings and four Newbridge stands.

Meanwhile, a trip to Killarney Plaza, Co Kerry, from June 25th-27th, 2010 for 57 members of Transfusion Positive, nine therapists and two facilitators cost €14,132. Hotel costs totalled €5,548 including €454 towards “pool table” rental and €400 for a band while complementary therapies cost a further €6,600. The filed invoices include €160 for the Gift Studio in Killester; over €650 in receipts for Killarney Golf and Fishing Club; and €665 for Treyvaud’s Restaurant in Killarney.

A trip to the Connemara Coast Hotel, Furbo, Co Galway, in October for 48 members and 89 non-infected family members, 18 therapists and two facilitators cost €46,303.

This included accommodation worth €27,780; “Saturday Morning” golf worth €899; “pool table hire” costing €400; 70 “large”water bottles costing €5 each with a total cost of €350; and 595 towels costing €892.50.

Meanwhile, one member of the executive of the organisation claimed €4,326 in expenses accrued at the European Association for the Study of the Liver conference held in Vienna between April 13th-18th 2010, including €685 in expenditure due to the volcanic ash cloud. The invoices also included two tickets to the Hundertwasser Museum.

Positive Action spent €83,625 in the same year for four weekends away for its members and non-infected family members. This included €16,076 in costs accrued at a weekend spent at the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise, Co Laois, for 51 members which included expenses relating to two gym balls costing €320; the Strand Hotel, Limerick City in April 2010, which saw 31 members and 25 non-members accrue a net cost of €21,041.

Another trip was to the Connemara Coast Hotel in Furbo, Co Galway, in September 2010 which saw 27 members and 98 non-members spend €37,894. This included over 30 gift cards valued between €5 and €10 each for Penney’s and Lifestyle Sports. On this, and one other weekend, bands were hired at a cost of €1,000 each time.

A separate weekend in the Springhill Court hotel in Kilkenny cost €8,614.