Garda-linked charity 'working closely with auditor' over unfiled accounts

A charity run by senior gardaí and civil servants hasn’t filed annual accounts with regulators for more than three years.

Little Blue Heroes, which received more than €40,000 from the court poor box last year, confirmed to The Ditch that it is “working closely with an auditor” over its failure to file annual returns and accounts overdue since 2021. 

Failure to submit annual accounts to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) is a criminal offence attracting fines of €5,000 and/or up to six months’ imprisonment. Similarly it is a criminal offence under the Charities Act 2009 not to file annual reports within 10 months of a charity’s financial year-end.

Little Blue Heroes received €43,080 from the court poor box

Little Blue Heroes, a not-for-profit company, was founded in 2017 and is run by “garda members, retired garda members and civic-minded people from communities”, according to its website. 

“Our mission is to provide practical and financial support to families of children who have serious illnesses in Ireland while granting the wish of the children we support to become honorary gardaí,” it adds on its website. 

Little Blue Heroes directors include co-founder Alan Roughneen, a garda inspector who acts as treasurer of the charity. Karl Heller, co-founder and chairperson of the charity’s board, served as a garda chief superintendent until 2017.

Ex-garda sergeant Darren Coventry-Howlett, an assistant director at the Office of the Planning Regulator, has served on the charity’s board since March this year. 

Other directors include the charity’s secretary Alan Keane, a garda sergeant, and Suadd Elmonem, an assistant principal at An Garda Síochána.

Though it was incorporated more than six years ago, Little Blue Heroes has only ever filed annual accounts twice. Its last financial statements, submitted almost two years late to the CRO in 2022, only show its income and expenditure up to October 2019. 

Its accounts and annual returns due in June 2021, 2022 and 2023, have never been submitted to the CRO. 

Little Blue Heroes received €43,080, at the direction of district court judges across the country, from the poor box in 2022, according to a report last week in the Irish Independent. 

The county Meath-based charity, which receives extensive local and national media coverage, received donations worth €130,617 in 2019 and was left with €62,951 in retained earnings, according to its last accounts.

A spokesperson for Little Blue Heroes told The Ditch that it is working with an independent auditor.

“Regarding our accounts to the CRO for filing April 2021, 2022 and 2023, we have fully submitted all the necessary accounts, policies and governance documents to an independent auditor as legally required. We are currently working closely with the auditor throughout the process who will be uploading all the required filing in the coming weeks,” said the spokesperson.

A spokesperson for the Courts Service told The Ditch that “organisations wishing to become a beneficiary from the court poor box may apply in writing to their local District Court office. Any applications received will be brought to the attention of the presiding judge.”

The Charities Regulator declined to comment. 

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors