£40k Poppy day cash 'missing' from an Ulster British Legion branch
The Royal British Legion is probing the disappearance of thousands of pounds from an Ulster branch.
A high-level investigation has been launched after money went missing from public collections in Fermanagh.
Officials from headquarters in England and Belfast have held interviews in the Enniskillen branch, and there are fears the fallout could hit this year’s Poppy Appeal.
It’s thought the losses go back several years but only came to light recently.
And it’s estimated that up to £40,000 in public collections were never given to the charity.
Following interviews at the branch, the organisation is now preparing a report for the PSNI.
The drop in funds was initially blamed on a shortage of ready cash among members of the public who would normally donate to the charity, which supports members of the armed forces and veterans.
However, alarm bells started to ring when donations dropped steeply.
“London caught on and started asking questions,” said an RBL source.
“It’s only been within the last three months that this came to light and they got the investigation going.
“The officials from London and Belfast were here recently and they’re going to put it into the hands of the police.”
The Poppy Appeal raises millions of pounds every year – the 2015 appeal started last Thursday and runs until November 11.
But here are fears that news of an investigation will hit donations locally.
“There has been a lot of loose change donated to the British Legion which never got to help anyone, because they never got it.
“It’s a disgrace that people’s hard-earned money, which they thought was going to a good cause, has disappeared,” said the insider.
A spokesperson for the organisation confirmed that it is conducting an internal probe but did not comment on whether any officials have been suspended pending the outcome.
“We are holding an internal investigation into a fundraising issue in the Enniskillen area and no further comment will be made at this time,” the Legion said in a statement to Sunday World.