Former minister Phil Hogan overlooked independent advice and gave €180,000 in funding to a Mayo-based charity, RTE's This Week has learned.

Belmullet-based Irish Association of Supported Employment ranked near the bottom of 157 charities and voluntary groups which applied for funding under the Scheme to Support National Organisations, according to documents obtained by This Week.

However, the IASE still ended up being given one of the highest amounts of money from the €7m fund.

Of the 55 community, charity or voluntary groups which received a share of the fund, only two other charities were awarded more than the €180,000 given to IASE, despite the IASE's poor performance in meeting the criteria in the independent review of applicants.

In 2014, the Department of Environment commissioned Pobal to conduct an independent assessment into the 157 applicants for funding under the SSNO scheme, which is used to cover certain costs for charitable and voluntary organisations.

A spokesman for Pobal said they submitted their recommendations based on "who best met the criteria for funding".

Pobal listed all the applicants in a ranking system - a copy of which has been obtained by This Week. The assessment recommended the top 44 should get full funding. Mr Hogan subsequently decided to spread the funding over 55 bodies on the list.

The documents show that with the exception of IASE, all other bodies which received funding were among the top 54 ranked in order of preference by Pobal.

However, the IASE was ranked at number 137 by Pobal, meaning that it secured funding ahead of more than 80 charities which scored higher than it.

The chairman of IASE, Castlebar-based Greg Barry, told This Week that the IASE had "lobbied heavily" on a national level for more funding across all parties and the IASE had broad support for their work across all parties.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment said that while Pobal submitted recommendations to the department it was a matter for the minister to decide who should receive funding.

The spokesman said that the Mr Hogan had deviated from the Pobal ranking system and selected IASE for funding based on their "unique role" in terms of providing employment services for the disabled.

Thirty-six of the bodies which did not receive funding but which scored higher than the IASE in the Pobal rankings, also provide services in the disability and health sectors - some of whom are the sole bodies which provide advocacy for specific disabilities and diseases.

The Scheme to Support National Organisations in the community and voluntary sector was set up to provide multi-annual funding to national organisations towards core costs associated with the provision of services.

It was set up in 2008 under the former Department of Community and Gaeltacht.

Asked whether the current minister, Alan Kelly, would review the decision taken by his predecessor, a spokesman said "the decision in relation to funding was a matter for the minister and the question of a review does not arise".

Mr Hogan did not respond to a series of questions from RTÉ, such as why did he opt to follow Pobal's assessment of the criteria for funding in all other cases but deviate from it in respect of just one organisation; and whether he received any political or non-political representations in terms of the IASE's funding under the SSNO.