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€150,000 top-ups for charity chiefs

Cuts in voluntary and community sector

Senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell (ind, Taoiseach nominee ) drew the attention of the Seanad to a report in the Irish Independent Probe into top ups for €150,000 charity chiefs  (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 7th March 2012, 59-60).  She asked for a Seanad debate on the charities sector, which received €1.5bn in state funding.  There was an urgent need, she said, for the government to introduce a mandatory system of registration for charities in the interest of financial transparency.  She wanted the debate in order to maintain public confidence and continue their valuable work.


Later, Terence Flanagan (FG, Dublin NE) and Derek Keating (FG, Dublin MW) asked the Minister for Health what controls did he have on the salaries of CEOs of disability charities, NGOs and voluntary hospitals, such as the hospices in Harold’s Cross, Raheny and Marymount (Dail Eireann, Debates, 27th March 2012, 705).  The minister, James Reilly, told them that staff in organizations funded under §38 of the Health Act were considered public servants and here the standard rates of public sector remuneration applied, their service level agreements requiring compliance with these salary scales.  A 2011 HSE review found some instances where standard rates of pay were not being applied, including a small number of CEOs and these issues were being pursued with the bodies concerned.  Staff funded for similar ancillary services under §39 of the Health Act in independent organizations were not public services and not specifically subject to the pay scales of public servants (> Dail Eireann, Debates, 13th March 2012, 360-1).


Asked by Finian McGrath (ind, Dublin NC) and Mattie McGrath (ind, Tipperary S) about the Charities Act, the Minister for Justice & Equality, Alan Shatter told the Dail that two statutory instruments had been issued to commence the new law: SI 284/2009 and 315/2010, commencing §§1, 2, 4, 5, 10 (except subsections 3-4), 90 and 99, their purpose being to regulate mass cards and breach of trust issues (Dail Eireann, Debates, 21st March 2012, 303-5).  Full implementation had been deferred until the budgetary situation improved, but this did not mean that charities were unregulated in the meantime, for they were required to conform to the requirements of the Revenue, the Companies Registration Office and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, while guidelines and a code of practice for fundraising had been developed.  


Meantime, Richard Boyd Barrett (ULA, Dun Laoghaire) and Caoimhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan Monaghan) asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government how he would safeguard employment in the voluntary and community sector (Dail Eireann, Debates, 8th March 2012, 678-9).  The minister, Phil Hogan, told them that he was confident that the budget allocations to the Local Community Development Programme would allow for the continuation of frontline services.  Increased funding had been provided for the LEADER programme while his department had commenced a new scheme to support national voluntary and community organizations.  He had reconvened the Forum on Philanthropy, which took the view that there was substantial scope to increase the level of private sector investment and had set a target of increasing philanthropic giving from €500m a year now to €800m by 2016. 

> Original reference: Eilish O’Regan: Probe into top-ups for €150,000 charity chiefs.  Irish Independent, 6th March 2012 -Ed.