The March meeting of Longford County Council held last Wednesday was dominated the presention of the annual report of the local authority's independent Audit Committee by its chairperson, Patrick Groarke.
Addressing the meeting, Mr Groarke was scathing in his analysis of the provisions for internal auditing which existed within Longford County Council until recently, saying the body's Executive took a “cavalier” approach to the process prior to the appointment of the current Acting CEO.
“To say that we have learnt much since our appointment back in July 2014 would be a gross understatement!” he said before going on to outline the function of his committee.
Mr Groarke said the committee met with the council's Local Government Auditor, Anne Halion, last November to discuss the report she had compiled for 2014. He said it made for “shocking reading”.
However, Mr Groarke noted a positive change in the local authority's approach to internal auditing in recent months, following the appointment of a new Acting CEO.
“Whilst initially, even after Ms Halion's report had been furnished, we saw no evidence to suggest that Longford County Council viewed internal audit as a critical support function or that it was at all committed to maintaining an adequately resourced internal audit function, we must acknowledge that in recent months this has totally changed. The Acting CEO, Ms Barbara Heslin, in taking control of the issue, has satisfied us that she is fully aware of the critcal importance of the internal audit fuction within Longford County Council and she has put in place what we regard as the appropriate and necessary systems to resurrect the internal audit function and to make it fit for purpose. This is very much a work in progress but we are pleased to acknowledge that significant progress has been made to our satisfaction in recent months.”
For more on this story, see this week’s Longford Leader.