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Charity top-ups

Charity top-ups, salaries and the regulation of the voluntary and community sector continue to be the focus of discussion.  In the Seanad, David Cullinane (SF,  labour) demanded a debate on the ‘toxic culture of bonuses, top-ups, bailouts, pensions, dig-outs and cronyism’ (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 18th February 2014, 843-4).  Such a regime had existed at the top of far too many organizations ranging from banks to charities at a time when families were trying to service celtic tiger mortgages with austerity incomes.  Working families had seen heads of organizations and charities receive outrageous payments.  This had to stop.  If the state funded these organizations, service level agreements should apply to ensure salary caps in the public sector applied to them – this had to happen if we were to have confidence in charities and public life.  There should be no secrets in salaries in organizations partly funded by the state, but the reality was that we did not have accountability and transparency – it took till yesterday and months of wrangling to get that information from Rehab.  Many people would be astounded and outraged at the overall package of €272,400 which was more than the Taoiseach and what most heads of state in most countries in Europe were paid.  It could not be justified at a time when services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities were being cut back.


In an exchange on funding for development NGOs, Patrick O’Donovan (FG, Limerick) stated how essential it was that we must ensure that ‘every stone is turned over to ensure there there are no top-ups or CEO payments in excess of the salaries of the ministers of state or the Tanaiste’ (Dail Eireann, Debates, 19th February 2014, 472-4).  There needs to be absolute clarity on this and the sooner NGOs can provide it, the better.  The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Joe Costello told him that they had stringent measures in place: any funded NGOs could only use a maximum of 6% for administration; NGOs with salaries over €70,000 must declare them and NGOs with a revenue of more than €100,000 must be audited externally and independently.  Patrick O’Donovan asked him would NGOs, when they stop people on the side of the street for a direct debit, will they say how much goes to a charitable purpose, how much goes to the collector and how much goes to administration?  One must drag out of them what percentage ends up sinking a bore hole in Uganda.  The minister of state pointed to the code of practice developed by Dochas, which had guidelines in place.

> Forthcoming appointment of Chief Executive Designate for Charity Authority: Dail Eireann, Debates, 26th February 2014, 649-650.