Miscoded invoices and funding drawn down for work that had not taken place leads to council repayment of €1.2 million in grants

A county council was forced to pay back over €1.2 million in government funding after an internal audit found miscoded invoices and money drawn down before any work had taken place.

Mayo County Council had been awarded significant funding for tourism and amenity projects in the county as part of a fund to support outdoor recreation by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

However, a departmental audit of the scheme found major issues across five separate grants to the local authority resulting in the repayment of more than €1.2 million.

A copy of the report details how auditors first examined a €200,000 grant for development of a 45-metre suspended cycle bridge as part of the Achill Island Greenway.

It found that €27,000 in invoices had been “miscoded” from other projects. Another €32,000 had been spent on the scheme on underground ducting and professional fees.

However, the local authority had drawn down the full grant even though a tender for the bridge had come in three times over the budget estimate.

The report said: “The local authority has, during the audit, admitted to drawing down the grant without incurring the requisite expenditure and has informally requested additional grant funding.”

As a result of the findings, the auditors decided they would look at other grants that had been paid by Mayo County Council through the scheme.