More than €3,500 spent by prison staff in pubs was incorrectly “coded” into the prisoner aid fund.

More than €3,500 spent by a prison over two years in local pubs was charged to a prisoner relief fund instead of a staff fund.

Aren Mcaffrey, director-general of the Irish Prisons Service, said that through an administrative error the money was “coded” to a Prisoners’ Relief Fund – money from prison shop profits.

The money should instead come from a staff development fund, she told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this morning.

“Employee recognition events were held, it was appropriate that they were supported through the employee assistance program but unfortunately an administrative error caused them to be coded to the wrong account which was subsequently rectified,” she said.

“It was an administrative and accounting error.”

Ms Mcaffrey said the money in the staff fund was not taxpayers’ money.

“The money in the staff fund is not public money but is raised by the prison staff themselves,” she said.

“This was a special employee recognition event, held outside of working hours, and it was the employees’ own money, not electoral or public money.”

The PAC audited the appropriation accounts of the Department of Justice and the Irish Prisons Service.

However, Sinn Féin questioned the oversight that allowed the €3,500 to be wrongly billed.

“How could anyone in your employ actually think that this money could come from the Prisoner Assistance Fund,” said Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster.

“What good would that do the prisoners? How would this mistake be made? Where was the mistake?

Justice Department Secretary-General Oonagh McPhillips said the funds were “not public money, but employees’ own money”.

She added that the Voluntary Mess Committees (VMCs) in prisons are run by volunteers who are not trained in administration or accounting.

She suggested that this was the reason for the booking error. More than €3,500 spent by prison staff in pubs was incorrectly “coded” into the prisoner aid fund.

Fry Electronics Team

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