Positive Action paid singing husband €2,350

Impression created was that ‘money was no object and extravagant expenditure was normal’

Positive Action paid the husband of one of the members of its executive a total of €2,350 for singing on at least four occasions in 2010 and 2011, while an executive member's daughter received at least €2,750 for providing therapies over a three-year period.

The findings are part of an internal HSE audit which also found that the hepatitis C support-group “front-loaded” company credit cards which were used to pay for restaurants, groceries, flowers, a €70 tyre and “bills made out to family members”. There were also clamping and parking fines of as much as €680.

The audit found that three company credit cards were “front-loaded” with amounts ranging from €8,000 to €10,000 totalling €68,000 between 2009 and 2013.

The audit team found that almost €34,000 on restaurants and take-outs was charged in the four-year period covered by the audit (a further €31,290 was spent on restaurants and meals through expense claims while almost €2,100 came out of petty cash). A sum of €8,720 for restaurant and hotel charges connected with judicial review proceedings the organisation took against the HSE in 2013 were also charged to a company credit card.


The auditors found that the front-loading of credit cards was “not an appropriate use of public money” and “weakened any possible control over the expenditure of such funds”.

In a response to the findings on this practice, a director and the holder of one of the three credit cards said the front-loading “was necessary to cover costs on trips which would have exceeded the credit limit”.

Positive Action told the audit team on December 19th, 2013, that the practice had ceased.

Elsewhere, the audit found that groceries purchased by one executive committee member included meat such as sausages, mince and lamb’s liver and other foodstuffs, despite the organisation not having the necessary cooking facilities to prepare such items. Non-food items included shampoo, fire logs, deodorant and Woman’s Weekly magazine.

The organisation spent €19,539 on groceries in the four-year period covered by the audit, almost half of which was run up on credit cards with the rest either claimed back through expenses or petty cash.

The controversial spending at Positive Action was first revealed by The Irish Times in March 2012.

‘Money no object’

The auditors who examined Positive Action’s finances concluded the impression created was that “money was no object and that extravagant expenditure was normal”.

The audit also criticised Positive Action over the practice of signing blank cheques which the audit team first discovered during an unannounced inspection in October 2013.

In December 2013, Positive Action responded to findings around the use of cheques stating that it would introduce best practice policies.

However documents obtained by The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act show that, in February 2014, after the audit had been completed, the HSE wrote to the organisation saying it was “most concerned” that it “continued to pre-sign blank cheques”. A Garda investigation into the spending is ongoing.