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Just the latest in a long sorry list of scandals

LAVISH lunches, boardroom rows and numerous reviews – Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) has been plagued by controversy.

Over the past two years, the Herald has repeatedly exposed scandals at the company.

In July 2011, we revealed that taxpayers were stung for two lavish lunches, including 32 bottles of wine, totalling more than €2,500.

TBCT offset the cost of the lunches against the restaurant's rent, the restaurant in question, Eden in Temple Bar, being a tenant of the trust.

Incredibly, the audit team that recently examined TBCT stated that it had to refer to the Herald to establish the details of these meals.

"TBCT could not provide invoices or breakdown of the items offset against the rent. However, a breakdown of these invoices was reported in the Evening Herald newspaper on July 7, 2011," the audit states.

In August, CEO Dermot McLaughlin came under fire for stating that he would "abhor" the prospect of McDonald's opening an outlet in Temple Bar.

The fast-food giant won, however, and opens later this year.

In September 2011, an independent consultant called for the trust to be scrapped, a move that would save the council €800,000 a year.

The Latitude report recommended that the trust be wound down within three years.

But it was in the summer of 2012 that the most serious of questions were asked of TBCT.

PAYMENTS

The Herald revealed details of an external audit report which found that TBCT was making late payments on its VAT returns and even allowed a non-management employee to have access to its bank accounts.

The body was also found to be slow in collecting hundreds of thousands of euros owed to it.

The news prompted the first call from a government politician, Dublin South East TD Eoghan Murphy, for the trust to be immediately scrapped.

And Mr Murphy today said the latest audit made it "absolutely clear" that TBCT should be wound down.

"Clearly the wrong business culture prevails at the trust, and this is something that is not easily remedied. We do not need this quango. It should go," he said.

noconnor@herald.ie


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