THE Clare Camogie Board lost out on Leader funding worth €181,776.49 in 2013 after a fraudulent AIB bank statement, attached to the application, was submitted by a former chairperson of the board.
Orla Considine, 37, from Dangan, Tulla appeared before Ennis District Court this week where she pleaded guilty to charges of making and using a false document. At the end of the hearing, Judge Patrick Durcan struck out the charges.
The charges state that on or about June 7, 2013 she made and subsequently used a document purporting to be a genuine bank statement issued by AIB with the intention that it be used to induce a person to accept it as genuine.
The application was made to secure funding for the development of Fr McNamara Park, on the site of the former Doora landfill, on the Quin Road, Ennis.
After hearing evidence, Judge Durcan described Ms Considine as one of the “modern patriots” in her capacity as a volunteer with camogie and said she was driven to secure the funding for Clare Camogie. Her actions were not designed for personal gain and, for those reasons, he said he would strike out the charges.
Detective Garda Claire O’Shaughnessy told the court that gardaí received a complaint from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in September 2015 regarding the matter.
She said that Leader funding had been sought in 2013 for Clare Camogie to develop a pitch and that Ms Considine – a volunteer with the camogie board – was in charge of the funding application.
One of the documents purported to be a bank statement from AIB but it was a constructed document and Ms Considine had admitted constructing it.
She outlined that funding of €181,776.49 was sought and granted in principle by Leader but on the discovery of this, it was subsequently withdrawn. She highlighted that there was no benefit gained on the back of it by Ms Considine but it may have led to a benefit to the Clare Camogie Board.
Detective O’Shaughnessy said Ms Considine believed that there were time pressures in submitting the application and believed she wouldn’t have the bank statement on time, so she constructed this document.
“The content was not fictitious. It was correct from the position of the bank. It did reflect the true position. She seemed to feel she could not get this document in time from the bank. Funding was granted but was withdrawn and the funding was lost because of this,” Detective O’Shaughnessy said.
The court heard Ms Considine has no previous convictions and had never been before the courts previously.
Solicitor for Ms Considine, John Casey said his client is “devastated by what she has done”. He highlighted that the document was not misleading, apart from it not being an authentic document. He said his client lives for camogie and has volunteered with her club for more than 20 years.
Detective O’Shaughnessy agreed with Mr Casey that all parties she talked with spoke very highly of Ms Considine. She said that no-one else knew what had been done.
“This document was submitted on June 7, 2013 but it was not brought to garda attention until September 2015. This finalised the refusal. There were other small issues but Clare Camogie has suffered from this. They have lost out on this money but they have gained other funding since,” she added.
Mr Casey said that his client lives for camogie and was driven to get this funding.
Judge Durcan said one of the most important things in community organisations, such as the GAA, is that these organisations are dependent on volunteers and people like Ms Considine.
He highlighted that there was no attempt for personal gain in this and that the offending document reflected the real situation. Based on this, he said he could not convict her of these crimes.
Inspector John Ryan, prosecuting, said it was a situation borne out of “pure naivety”.
Judge Durcan ordered that the matters be struck out, thus leaving Ms Considine with no criminal record.
He said while Ms Considine “did something which was not correct, she did it because of her over-enthusiasm” for camogie. He described her as one of the “modern patriots” in her capacity as a volunteer and he said he could see she works hard for Clare camogie.
He asked for matters to be revisited with Leader to see if they could resolve the issues there. “Can we turn it around for Clare Camogie?” he asked.
Joe Robbins, the current chairperson of Clare Camogie Board, was in court supporting Ms Considine and he said the matter had already been turned around. “Orla is probably one of the best people we’ve worked with. We missed out on that funding but we got funding in Sports Capital Grants, and everything is going fine,” he said.