Mayo County Council has to hand back 1.1 million euro to the Department for monies it was allocated for the Clew Bay Greenway in west Mayo, and pay a further 160,000 euro in penalties for failing to comply with a dept scheme, known as the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
The amount of funding lost to the county as a result, was widely condemned by elected members of MCC this afternoon when they met for the monthly meeting of the authority.
The agenda for today’s meeting was simply put aside as the Cathaoirleach Cllr Michael Smyth opened the meeting saying all cllrs wanted to discuss revelations provided by council management at an in-committee meeting yesterday about the funding debacle in the county that had come to light following an external audit of the authority’s accounts. He asked the CEO Kevin Kelly to immediately address the situation with cllrs.
The CEO explained that a number of issues arose over practice and procedures concerning funding that had been allocated to MCC in 2019 under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
Basically under the scheme no monies can be drawn down until the projects are completed, however, Mayo County Council got it the wrong way round and drew down the monies without completing the projects in some cases, and not having started them in other cases.
In total there were ten projects involved, six of these were started but not completed and the dept has agreed that it will allow the funding to stand, pending the projects being completed early 2022. It will however, impose a fine for the mistake of 160,000 euro.
In the case of the other four projects, all related to works on the Clew Bay Greenway, since no work had begun the monies 1.1 million must be returned in full.
Kevin Kelly said the four Clew Bay Greenway projects have had the funding “de-committed”.
He also explained that nationally, the TII (Transport infrastructure Ireland) has taken over the development of a number of greenway projects, including two in Mayo – the Clew Bay Greenway and the Castlebar to Westport Greenway.