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Charity boss launches legal battle into regulator's findings around €84,000 payments to her parents

Barbara Flynn called the report “fundamentally flawed” after it found that €84,009 was paid to two former trustees – her parents.

Barbara Flynn
Barbara Flynn
Image: Ataxia Ireland

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of Ataxia Ireland has launched a legal challenge against the findings of a Charities Regulator report.

Barbara Flynn called the report “fundamentally flawed” after it found that €84,009 was paid to two former trustees – Flynn’s parents.

The investigation found that payments to two former trustees – totalling €84,009 between January 2008 and April 2016 – were “contrary to the Revenue’s stated position” that officers, directors and trustees of a charity should carry out their duties without payment.

In a statement issued today, Flynn said that she will seek a judicial review into the report. She called the suggestion she had not adequately safeguarded the interests of Ataxia Ireland was “an unjust attack on her good reputation and professional standing”.

Flynn said the inspectors’ report “failed to give a balanced view of the operations of the charity during her 12 years as CEO” including her “success in securing substantial HSE funding for the services the charity provides to ataxia sufferers and the launch of the successful Ataxia Clinic at Tallaght Hospital”.

The regulator’s report, released in July, found that there was a fundamental weakness in the financial management and control of the charity between 2014 and mid-June 2015.

The charity had paid the employee pension contributions of the CEO (totalling around €38,500) and another staff member (totalling around €900) rather than deducting these payments from their salaries.

Flynn’s statement says that all payments were above board.

“These payments were fully transparent, went through payroll, were accounted for in the financial statements which in turn were signed off by the Ataxia Ireland chairperson, treasurer and auditors each year.

“I co-operated fully with the inspectors as they acknowledge. But I do not believe I have been given a fair hearing. That is why I have now instructed PC Moore Solicitors to go to the High Court to challenge the report’s findings by way of judicial review and to vindicate my reputation.

“The findings of the report are naturally of great personal concern to me. But of greater concern is the on-going damage that is being done to the charity and the essential services that it provides to members. As a result of this investigation, the charity’s funding has been impacted and it is rapidly running out of resources.”

Ataxia is the principal symptom of a group of neurological disorders called the cerebella ataxias. Sufferers have problems with co-ordination.

Read: Charity wrongly paid €84k to two former trustees, who were parents of the CEO

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