Charities

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1 Debates: shadow regulator

Discussion on charity salaries, top-ups and regulation continued to pre-occupy members of the Oireachtas.  In the Seanad, Aideen Hayden (Lab, Taoiseach nominee) asked that the Minister for Justice & Equality come to the Seanad to discuss how the charities regulatory authority could be put on a statutory footing early – ‘I emphasize early‘ – in 2014 (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 16th December 2013, 550-555; 17th December, 682, 684).  The Charities Act, 2009 had been passed five years ago and had it been implemented more promptly, she doubted if public confidence would have been damaged as much as it had been by the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC).  Funds for voluntary organizations had dropped 40% since this issue had become public, many providing vital services to those who needed them.  Delay had been a false economy.  

 

Michael Mullins (FG, cultural & educational) expressed his concern about the damage done and expected that many organizations would experience a crisis early in the new year and left unable to provide services.  Greed in the CRC was appalling and would deprive many vulnerable people of a service to which they had become accustomed.  It was sad that a small handful of people could inflict so much damage.  Eamonn Coughlan (ind, Taoiseach nominee) told of his disgust at the vulgarity of the CRC board and the charity sector had been tarred with the same brush.  It had been shaken to its foundations but he did not want people to lose trust in charity.

 

The leader of the house, Maurice Cummins (FG, labour) told them that following the appointment of its members the authority would operate in a shadow form for a period in advance of its formal establishment to allow systems and procedures to be put in place.  Subject to this, it would be established autumn 2014.  The Minister for Justice & Equality intended to invite expressions of interest for membership.  The minister was pressing on.  Chief executive officers in the charities sector earning more than €100,000 were a disgrace.

 

Mary Ann O’Brien (ind, Taoiseach nominee) spoke of how €7bn was going into the charities sector, with 100,000 employed there and yet there was no watchdog or regulator.  If all were examined closely, further cases of poor practices would likely be exposed.  Revealing the salary of one of them would not give a true reflection of the situation.  Many smaller charities were suffering greatly from the media revelations. John Whelan (Lab, labour) expressed his astonishment that it wold take until autumn 2014 for the charities office to be operational and did not believe that people would wait another year for the issue to be addressed.  People were out in atrocious weather conditions collecting for good causes, yet regulation remained unaddressed.