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Basketball Ireland

Basketball Ireland to repay €124k for 'serious error' in use of grant money

Over €1.2 million in capital funding was instead spent on development programmes by the association.

IRISH BASKETBALL’S GOVERNING body has been ordered to repay €124,000 in grant money to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The sanctions follow an audit which found a “serious error” in the use of capital funding provided to Basketball Ireland for its Community Hoops programme.

In addition, the association will not be permitted to apply for any capital funding for the next five years. A provisional grant made in 2008 for work on the National Basketball Arena has also been revoked.

In an open letter addressed today to the basketball community, Basketball Ireland chairman Paul Meany said that the board was “very disappointed” by the decision “which will hamper the progress which has been made since 2009 and which will delay much needed work on the National Basketball Arena.”

“But it notes that the monetary sanction could have been much bigger and that the capital programme ban could have been for much longer.”

Since the discovery of “serious over-runs on current spending” in 2009, Basketball Ireland has appointed a new Board of Directors, a new Council and a new Secretary General and created seven-year plan to repay its debts.

In total, the association received grants totalling €1.753 million from the Department for the Community Hoops programme between 1999 and 2006. While all of the grant money was spent on basketball, €1.24 million was used to fund development programmes rather than to purchase of equipment as intended.

“The then management and Board of BI were under the impression that this was acceptable to the Department,” Meany wrote.

A 2009 audit discovered this misuse of the funds, a position which was confirmed by an internal audit report when the Department of Sport was merged with Transport and Tourism. The repayment of €124,000 represents 10% of the €1.24 million total.

Meaney wrote: “In its written decision, the DTTS notes ‘as mitigating circumstances’ that ‘the grant-aid diverted from the Community Hoops programme monies were spent on other basketball-related activities,’ and it also takes into account ‘the important work of BI and its efforts to regularise its financial position and corporate structure since this case was discovered.’”

He added: “[The Board] notes that the monetary sanction could have been much bigger and that the capital programme ban could have been for much longer. The Board has therefore taken the view that now is the time to draw a line in the sand with regard to this long-standing legacy issue and has agreed a schedule for the repayment of the €124,000.

“The Board has also decided to absorb the necessary repayments within our current five-year projections without further imposition on our members.”

When contacted by this evening, the Department said that it has no comment to make other than to confirm the sanctions are those as set out in Basketball Ireland’s statement.

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