Fianna Fáil councillor resigns over financial issues

Irregularities were discovered at voluntary housing association of which he was a director

Cill Urnaí voluntary housing association contacted the offices of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Garda Síochána, both of which have now initiated inquiries.

Cill Urnaí voluntary housing association contacted the offices of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Garda Síochána, both of which have now initiated inquiries.

 

A long-standing Fianna Fáil councillor in Co Kildare has resigned from the party after financial irregularities were discovered at a voluntary housing association of which he was a director.

Mark Dalton from Athy was first elected to Kildare County Council in 1994 and has also been the full-time parliamentary assistant to Fianna Fáil TD and party chief whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl. It is understood he will also vacate the council seat.

Mr Dalton had been treasurer and director of the Cill Urnaí voluntary housing association in Co Kildare which owns and provides housing on a voluntary basis in the south of the county. The association owns 16 units and leases some 12 more.

In late September, the association’s bankers AIB contacted Mr Ó Fearghaíl, who is also a director of the association, to query a number of transactions and payments that had been made from the association’s bank account. This prompted an examination of the accounts and the irregularities were uncovered.

As a result, the association contacted the offices of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Garda Síochána, both of which have now initiated inquiries.

The association is preparing statements for both agencies. A source last night described the overall shortfall in the housing association “as substantial”.

Close friend

Mr Dalton has been a close friend and political associate of Mr Ó Fearghaíl for more than 30 years and is a respected figure in the local community in Athy. He had served as chair of the local GAA club and community council and had been a member of the representative body of municipal councils.

As of earlier this month, Mr Dalton is no longer employed by Mr Ó Fearghaíl as his parliamentary assistant. Contacted yesterday Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the development had come as a terrible shock and a blow to Fianna Fáil in the area and himself. He said that Mr Dalton had been an exceedingly hard-working councillor and had carried out work for the disadvantaged.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said he was saddened by the turn of events.

He confirmed that reports were being prepared by the housing association for the Garda Síochána and for the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

He said that both AIB and the association’s auditors were assisting with piecing together the relevant information. The Fianna Fáil organisation in the county has held a number of crisis meetings since the irregularities were uncovered.

Mr Dalton was not contactable for comment yesterday.