The board of Bird Watch Ireland misused over half a million euro worth of restricted funds, an inspector's report published on Wednesday 9 November has found.

The Charities Regulator report said that approximately €504,000 was received by Bird Watch Ireland for specific projects and these funds were not ring-fenced for the projects for which the funds were granted.

The investigation into the charity arose from concerns raised with the Charities Regulator, one of which alleged that the CEO was using a Bird Watch Ireland credit card to pay for their wife’s car repairs.

Following investigations by the Charities Regulator based on the period from January 2016 to August 2021, it was found that insufficient action was taken by the charity’s board to ensure adequate financial controls and procedures were in place.


The report stated: "The board of Bird Watch did not have adequate internal financial controls, or oversight of, petty cash expenditure, credit card expenditure, cash withdrawals from credit cards, travel and subsistence expenditure, overtime payments, ex-gratia redundancy payments, recording of income, salary increases and recording of fixed assets within Bird Watch."

The report also said that there was a lack of appropriate procedures for the recording, evidencing and authorisation of credit card expenditure.

"Charity trustees have a duty to manage a charity’s resources responsibly. Due to inadequate oversight by the board of Bird Watch, restricted funds were spent for purposes outside of contractual obligations," it said.


The inspectors sampled six employees who were employed in the period under review.

Contracts for three employees could not be provided and the advertisement of roles for four positions could not be provided.

As well as this, evidence of interview was not provided for four applicants and board minutes do not show the approval of employment for one of the six positions.


Bird Watch is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland and there are 27 branches across the Republic of Ireland.

Bird Watch is a registered charity and receives the majority of its income by way of Government and EU grants and also from membership subscriptions and donations.

Chief executive of the Charities Regulator Helen Martin said that the report highlights the important role and responsibilities of charity trustees.

"The report also emphasises the importance of ensuring that restricted charity funds are treated appropriately and only used for the purpose for which they were provided to the charity.

"Trust and confidence underpin Ireland’s charity sector and donors and funders must have certainty that the money or grants they give are used for the intended purposes only," she said.