A SENIOR Counsel has been appointed to investigate allegations of serious irregularities at Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).
Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan ordered a review of the organization after complaints about the management of finances and staff.
Complaints include a fleet of 16 uninsured company vehicles on the road, including one that was involved in an accident.
Another issue concerns the inappropriate use of dormant fund funds and a claim that an allocation was made to a fishing club that did not exist.
It is also alleged that a Victorian country house in Co Mayo, Aasleagh Lodge, owned by IFI, was rented to an employee for use as a guest house under a local arrangement with no transparency as to the transaction or financial accounts.
The issues were raised in the Seanad by Fine Gael Senator Seán Kyne, who said there were also “other matters” of concern.
Two members of the IFI Board have resigned – Chairman Fintan Gorman and Seamus Boland.
An internal employee notice stated that Mr. Boland was leaving due to work commitments. Mr Boland is also Managing Director of Irish Rural Link.
The message credited Mr. Gorman with overseeing a time of significant change for the organization. Both men were thanked for their work.
Another message informed employees that the board and management had been briefed on the independent review.
It said the chief executive and senior management team were unable to discuss the matter while the review was ongoing.
There was no reply to telephone messages left with Chief Executive Francis O’Donnell and Mr. Boland. Mr Gorman could not be reached for comment.
The Environment Department issued a statement confirming concerns had been raised.
“A number of matters have been the subject of recent correspondence between the Ministry and IFI,” it said.
“Following this correspondence, the Secretary of State, who believes that Inland Fisheries Ireland’s functions are not being carried out effectively, has appointed lead counsel to carry out a review under Section 18(3) of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010.
“Until this review is complete and a report is received, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
IFI is the state agency responsible for the overall management of the country’s inland and inshore fisheries.
It is responsible for scientific research, conservation programs, fishing licenses and monitoring 74,000 km of rivers and streams, 128,000 hectares of lakes and inshore fisheries up to 12 miles offshore.
It has more than 300 employees, up to 400 at peak times.
Senator Kyne told the Seanad he understood there could be more resignations from the board and urged the minister to appear outside the House to answer questions.
“IFI is a central body. Centralizing it wasn’t the right move. There is now a separation between central administration and work on the ground,” he said.
“I am asking that the Minister be asked to come to the House to discuss all fishing matters while he initiates a review of the governance or accountability of the board.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/minister-orders-probe-into-financial-and-other-serious-irregularities-at-inland-fisheries-ireland-41623421.html The Minister orders an investigation into financial and other serious irregularities at Inland Fisheries Ireland