An Irish local authority has been criticised over the management of an €8.5million community benefit fund provided by Royal Dutch Shell (Lon: RDSA).
An official audit found Mayo County Council, on the country’s west coast, had allocated €451,000 of the Community Gain Investment Fund to itself.
A local government auditor found that allocations made by “evaluation boards that were either entirely made up of staff from Mayo County Council, or the majority of members on the evaluation board were from Mayo County Council”.
The fund was set up as part of the controversial decision to approve the Corrib Onshore Gas Pipeline in 2011.
Shell’s contributions towards the investment fund are €1.7m per annum for five years, amounting to €8.5m in total.
The auditor raised a “number of issues” in regard to Mayo County Council’s management of the fund.
These included the lack of formal written procedures setting out allocations pre-July 2014 and a lack of external members on the application evaluation committees.
The auditor went on: “I identified sums amounting to €451k that Mayo County Council allocated itself, on behalf of communities eligible under the scheme.
“Whereas accepting that the council may be best placed to deliver these particular projects, the monies were allocated from evaluation boards that were either entirely made up of staff from Mayo County Council, or the majority of members on the evaluation board were from Mayo County Council.
“The council should consider whether this represents best practice.”
The local government chief executive welcomed the observations on the running of the fund.
The county council said all allocations made from the fund will be reviewed to ensure that they complied with written procedures.
Shell started production on the Corrib field off the Mayo coast at the end of 2015