Domestic violence NGO must repay €82,000 in State aid

Demand follows investigation into alleged misuse of funds provided by Cosc

An audit by the Department of Justice into claims of an alleged misuse of grant funding by a non-Government body has ordered that more than €82,000 be repaid.

The funding in question was provided by Cosc, an agency under the remit of the Department of Justice which is tasked with the prevention of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

The Department of Justice last year launched an investigation into claims that almost €90,000 in funding given to an organisation by Cosc was used for purposes unrelated to the group.

The money which must now be paid back was originally spent on development costs, training costs, volunteer representative payments, the chief executive’s travel expenses and trainee costs.


In September 2017, Cosc received an anonymous letter alleging that funding provided by it was used for business purposes outside of the funded programme.

The letter was accompanied by accounting records and alleged that €88,800 of money paid by Cosc to a programme was “reassigned after December 2013 to pay for a counselling course for a member of staff and to make up shortfalls in other programmes over the period”, the audit, which has been seen by The Irish Times, states.

It said it was “disallowing a spend amounting to €82,285 from the total €96,365.99 funding on the basis that either the monies are not considered to have been spent exclusively for Cosc programmes purposes, the spend was not sanctioned by Cosc and/or that the spend should have been apportioned between a number of funding bodies”.

It recommended the money “should be refunded to Cosc” and a “more rigorous oversight and management control” over the use of grant funding be implemented.

Travel and subsistence

Subsequent allegations were made in October 2018, the audit also reveals. It stated “that Cosc funding was inappropriately used to pay for travel and subsistence expenditure in relation to a staff member”.

“Audit believes that this is a matter for the . . . board to investigate and report back on. Audit has not performed additional audit work in relation to this,” the report said.

Some of the money which must be repaid includes €1,981.84 spent on “role consultation development, including reading and commenting on the writing of a book not funded by Cosc hence not considered eligible expenditure”.

The chief executive’s travelling expenses of €838.09 were disallowed because “no back-up was provided” and this should also be repaid to Cosc.

More than €30,000 of the money relates to “development costs”.

On August 17th, 2015, €31,311.38 was transferred to a bank account, effectively reducing an existing overdraft of €37,025.99 down to €5,714.61 on the date the transfer was made.

The audit was told that the transfer was to compensate for the set-up and “pre-development costs” in relation to an intervention programme.

“The cost was arrived at by calculating the time and mileage expenses for the chief executive officer and the national co-ordinator, incurred over the five-year period from 2000 to 2004,” it said.

Management provided breakdowns of this “derived from personal diaries, indicating details of meetings attended, dates and venues at which meetings were held, the hours and mileage incurred, with calculations of costs using hourly and mileage rates”.

“Any pre-development expenditure should have been sanctioned in advance by Cosc . . . the director of Cosc confirmed that Cosc had not sanctioned any predevelopment expenditure in relation to the programme,” the audit found.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times