Roscommon council under fire over tax default

Former Roscommon County Council cathaoirleach Orla Leyden is questioning why members of the local authority hadn’t been told until recent days of a tax-default issue.

She made the comments during a meeting of the council yesterday after director of services Martin Lydon told members that due to a “systems error”, the council had missed payments of VAT in July and August last year and had incurred €114,000 in penalties as a result.

Councillor Leyden, who was first to speak after the news delivered by Mr Lydon yesterday, said she was still trying to digest the details and was wondering why she hadn’t been told about this given she had been cathaoirleach of the council until last year.

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She also wanted to know what role, if any, the internal audit committee had in this, and who was to blame.

She also asked how it had come about that no one had picked up on the systems error, and how could members be assured that something like this wouldn’t happen again.

Councillor Leyden’s concerns were echoed by some other members, including her party colleagues Rachel Doherty and Paschal Fitzmaurice.

Other members said the penalty incurred was very severe for what had been a genuine oversight and which had occurred for only a very short period of time.

Several also spoke of the complete faith they have in the accounting system in the local authority, saying its finances are in a better condition than many others around the country.

Councillor Domnick Connolly proposed a motion of support for the internal audit committee and the executive of the council on the issue and that was unanimously agreed on.

Councillor Leyden says while she accepts the matter was a genuine and unfortunate error, she still has concerns about members not being told of it until several months later.