Last night a special Prime Time investigation into National Lottery funding of community projects, by Ken Foxe, revealed how, in 2011 and 2012, the people living in Fine Gael Health Minister Dr James Reilly’s constituency, Dublin North, were twice as likely to get funding than any other constituency.
Following a Freedom on Information request, Mr Foxe obtained documents showing repeated instances of how Dr Reilly overruled original recommendations of senior civil servants.
In one recommendation a civil servant recommended against a €44,000 allocation for a minibus for a group, saying the group already had a fleet of recreational vehicles.
But five months later, the funding was granted in full with the document signed off by Dr Reilly.
In another instance, a civil servant suggested that an application for €10,500 be turned down with the civil servant giving three reasons for their decision. However, six months later, Minister Reilly approved the full amount.
Mr Foxe also found a document that recommended approval of a €30,000 allocation to a group in Dublin North in January 2012, which contained a handwritten note on the assessment form saying: “They are located in the minister’s constituency”.
But it wasn’t just the Department of Health that such practice was found. It was also evident in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Dublin-West, the constituency of former Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald – now the Justice Minister – was also twice as likely to get funding than other constituencies. Of the €1.5million approved by her department during her appointment, 10% of it went to Dublin Mid-west.
At the beginning of 2012, in the Transport Department, Fine Gael’s Michael Ring, junior transport and sports minister, from Mayo, brought in new rules in regards to the allocation of National Lottery funding in his department, basing the allocations on a per capita basis.
However, between 1998 and 2011, Mayo ranked 16th in regards to receipt of National Lottery funding. Under the new system Mayo moved up to 9th by December 2, 2012. And three weeks later, on December 21, 2101, after the announcement of a second round of funding for regional projects, Mayo ranked 3rd.
Mr Foxe also discussed the matter of ministers making representations to departments, for National Lottery funding, including a successful representation made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Mr Foxe found that, in the Department of Children, an application for funding had an average success rate of 18% but when an application was followed by a representation by a minister, the average success rate rose to 33%.
Every year close to €200million is allocated to ‘good causes’.
Watch back in full here
(Sam Boal/Photocall ireland)