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Charities legislation: new authority by end 2011

The Minister for Community, Rural and Galetacht Affairs Pat Carey reported to the Dail on the progress of the Charities Act, 2009  (Dail Eireann, Debates, 11th May 2010, 455-7).  He told Michael Ring (FG, Mayo) that was was committed to further consultation with the charities sector, especially on the financial side, a process that had already started in the framework of a wider consultation process on accounting standards in Ireland and Britain conducted by the Accountancy Standards Board for Britain and Ireland.  His department had co-hosted a conference in Dublin Castle in January, attended by 150 delegates and was one of the most successful in the series.  A targeted consultation process would commence later this year on financial and activity reporting.  There had been extensive engagement on codes of practice for charitable fund-raising and an implementation group had been established with representatives of the sector, public and donor perspectives.  Professional support from the legal and accountancy professions had been established.  Two national briefings had been held in Dublin and Cork to promote the code’s materials, both these sessions being well attended.  His department had a positive disposition toward consultation and interacted with charities on an ongoing basis over the Act.  It took four years to develop a framework in Britain and it would probably take some time before we were ready for the commencement orders for the Act.  The resources required would not be extensive and they could be accommodated within existing resources.

Asked by Michael Ring would charities be able to register on line, the minister told him that he expected to provide an on-line facility.  Present activities involved the gathering of key data on the 7,500 organizations with a charity number, the dissolution of the Office of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests, preparation of 25 regulations, the appointment of the board and staff of the charity appeals tribunal, the development of protocols, the authority’s website and the documentation required for establishment day, which was set for the end of next year.

Later, the minister added that §2, 5, 10 and 99 had been commenced on 1st September under Statutory Instrument §284/2009, the sections being technical and covering mass cards.  Once §4 had been commenced, he would be in a position to make the 25 regulations.  The department was taking legal advice on commencing further provisions, including §4 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 11th May 2010, 542).