Issue 3 - May 2010

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Dublin Inner City Partnership

The fate of the Dublin Inner City Partnership (DICP) was raised on the adjournment of the Dail by Lucinda Creighton (FG, Dublin SE) (Dail Eireann, Debates, 6th May 2010, 338-340).  According to her, the partnership dated back to 1991, being one of the original 12 partnerships, but no reports were made on how it was administering its money until an audit in March 2008.  It appeared that questions were raised, so that another audit was done in December 2009, but what was bizarre was that these audits had not been made available either to public representatives or the communities due to receive funds.  Pobal had made them completely secret, which was extraordinary and unacceptable.  Such secrecy did not instill confidence, she said.  The second report, it was claimed in the newspapers, alleged that senior management was receiving payments above and beyond what was approved by Pobal. When these details became public, one councillor resigned from the board, but two did not.  Withdrawal of funding was the correct course of action.

In her view, the story highlighted a lack of accountability and she called on the government to ensure that the audits done by Pobal would be made public.  There had been an opening up and transparency in some public bodies like FAS but there had been none in Pobal or the Dublin Inner City Partnership.  It was essential that funds be made available to community groups and this not be used as an excuse to stop their funding.  Any new body which replaced the partnership must be an exercise in genuine community involvement and democracy, rather than having the same old individuals popping into positions of authority to administer funds.

Responding for the government, the Minister of State at the Department of Finance Martin Mansergh explained that Dublin Inner City Partnership was allocated €1.1m in 2009 and €1.074m in 2010, a first payment of €107,485 being issued on 18th January.  Pobal then completed a follow-up audit on foot of a previous audit of March 2008 which had given rise to major concerns about weaknesses in financial controls and procedures, non-compliance with programme accountability and salary payments above approved scales.  The company had previously been given an opportunity to address those issues and had agreed to do so by 31st March 2009, but the follow-up audit  revealed that it had not addressed these issues.  On 1st April 2010, Pobal’s board decided to cease its contract with Dublin Inner City Partnership because of these concerns and its failure to address them.  The department concerned supported Pobal’s decision.  The partnership was given the opportunity to appeal the decision and had done so: this process would be completed before the end of May 2010.

The objective of the minister, Pat Carey, was to ensure that the cessation of the contract would not impact negatively on services provided in the inner city area.  Pobal had met the groups concerned and finalized arrangements to manage the funding of their work directly.  There would be no interruptions in funding and the groups had been assured that the funding would continue until a long-term solution was found to the management of the new programme of the area.  Pobal had been in discussion with FAS to ensure the non-disruptive continuation of the Local Employment Service.