Peter Ireton, a leading figure in the charity Bóthar, was found dead at his home in Limerick yesterday in what has been described as a personal tragedy.
The gardaí are not seeking anybody else in connection with the 68-year-old’s death.
Mr Ireton’s death comes as the charity of which he was a founding member and former chief executive, is in crisis following High Court proceedings where, it was claimed, Mr Ireton’s successor, David Moloney, misappropriated €465,000.
The court granted an order freezing Mr Moloney’s assets. Mr Ireton was mentioned in affidavits in the case as being a close associate of Mr Moloney’s and questions were raised over payments he received after he had stepped down as chief executive.
Mr Ireton was credited with the idea to establish Bóthar in 1990. He came up with the idea to send cows to poor families in Uganda to mark the Limerick Treaty 300 celebrations that year. He set up the charity with three friends, Jim Quigley, Billy Kelly, and Harry Lawlor.
Mr Ireton identified prominent figures to serve on the new charity’s board in 1991. Within three years, the organisation had grown to the point where it required paid staff. He took up the position of chief executive. The following year he recruited David Moloney to work for Bóthar. In an affidavit at the recent High Court hearing, Mr Lawlor stated that “the board reposed a great deal of trust and confidence in Mr Ireton. After all it was Mr Ireton who devised Bóthar’s charitable scheme in the first place… Mr Ireton told the board that he wished Mr Moloney to work closely with him and the board was satisfied to accept his recommendation.” The court was also told that Mr Ireton stepped down as chief executive in 2011 and was succeeded by Mr Moloney. According to the affidavit, a subsequent investigation into the finances of Bóthar discovered Mr Ireton received “substantial payments” between 2011 and 2015, unbeknownst to the board. Mr Ireton has said he continued to work for Bóthar during this period and did nothing wrong. The court was told that there was currently no application for an order against Mr Ireton but investigations were ongoing.
Mr Lawlor’s affidavit also alleged that when investigations into Mr Moloney were initiated he enlisted the help of Mr Ireton to deflect the focus of investigation. A number of emails between the two men and another employee of Bóthar were included in the evidence.
Mr Lawlor’s sworn statement was critical of both Mr Ireton and another of their co-founders of Bóthar, Billy Kelly. Mr Lawlor claimed that both men were involved in attempting to have him removed from the board after investigations into finances were commenced. The affidavit was filed as part of an ex parte application, in which only one side is appearing before the court.
As a result of the allegations coming to light, the charity is facing an uncertain future with the immediate possibility of redundancies among staff.