Garda fraud investigation into two company directors dropped

A second Garda investigation into allegations of fraud against two directors of a Castlebar FÁS-funded company has been dropped.

Castlebar Care for the Aged Social Economy Ltd, a company that was featured in a controversial RTÉ Prime Time documentary in February 2009, has been subjected to a comprehensive investigation by the Garda Fraud Squad but there is to be no prosecution in the matter, the Mayo Advertiser has learned.

Mr Eddie Hoban, a former director of the company, received correspondence from Superintendent Colm Fox that following directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions there is to be no prosecution against any parties in the matter. The letter, which was viewed by the Mayo Advertiser, was dated July 6 2012.

A letter was also sent to Mr Gabriel Curran, brother of the late Canon Paddy Curran PP, the second company director, stating that following an investigation there was no evidence to substantiate any charge against his brother. This letter was dated April 6 2009. It read: “I wish to inform you that following allegations made by Mr PJ Nally a full and comprehensive investigation was conducted to try and establish any wrongdoing by any person.

“The full investigation file was submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on the 29th of April 2007. On the 13th of July 2007 directions were received to the effect that there was no evidence to substantiate any charge against your brother.”

To date nine audits have been carried out, investigating 50 different allegations into the workings of Castlebar Care for the Aged Social Economy Ltd in Castlebar, arising from allegations made by Mr PJ Nally, chairman of Castlebar Voluntary Social Services. One was conducted by FÁS, one by the Archbishop of Tuam, one by Pobal, one by the Department of Gaeltacht and Community Affairs, one by Prime Time, and two by An Garda Siochána. None of the investigations could find any wrongdoing. Two audits were also conducted by the company’s own accountant. Before the controversial Prime Time programme was aired, one of the Garda investigations had already taken place. Despite this, Mr Nally, a retired garda, called for an outside investigation, independent of FÁS, on the programme. The fact that one had already been conducted was not disclosed on the documentary.

The issue has received much media attention and Mr Hoban was successful in settling a libel case against one newspaper and received a subsequent front page clarification and apology.

This latest Garda investigation brings to a close this long running saga for the former directors of Castlebar Care for the Aged Social Economy Ltd, a company which was set up in 2001. It was initially funded by FÁS but in 2006 Pobal took over the funding of SE schemes such as this one.Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser Mr Hoban said he was most upset by the allegation made by Mr Nally in a letter to the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in March 2009 that “a lot of monies went towards the purchase of consumables for the Presbytery”. Mr Hoban said this was never the case.

“I am now drawing a line under it and any further allegations that will be made will be treated as vexatious and ignored,” Mr Hoban added. However he is asking the directors of Castlebar Voluntary Social Services, the company to which Mr Nally is chairman, and whose names all appeared on official letters which contained the allegations, to publish an unequivocal apology to himself, to the family of the late Canon Curran, and also to Martin Lyons and TJ Kirrane, both of whom were managers of schemes which were investigated.

And while there will be no more fraud investigations against this company, Mr Hoban told the Mayo Advertiser: “When your reputation is damaged, that stain is never fully removed. I have to live with that.” But he is satisfied that: “On the way to the grave no daughter of mine will be ashamed to walk behind my coffin.”

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