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Monday 26 September 2016

'Charities should look to share admin staff' - Tánaiste

Laura Larkin

Published 16/07/2016 | 02:30

Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald at the launch of the strategic statement on charities. Photo: Tony Gavin
Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald at the launch of the strategic statement on charities. Photo: Tony Gavin

The Tánaiste has said that the duplication in the charity sector should be addressed as the new regulator warns that a number of applications for charity status are likely to be refused.

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Criticisms of an over- crowded charity sector have emerged in recent weeks following the Console controversy and the scrutiny placed on the sector as a result.

John Farrell, CEO of the Charities Regulatory Authority.
Photo: Tony Gavin
John Farrell, CEO of the Charities Regulatory Authority. Photo: Tony Gavin

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said there is a "task ahead" of the sector.

"We have many charities that are focused on the same issue and I think charities have to think about working together and sharing administration staff to see if they can better serve the public. All of that is on the table," Frances Fitzgerald said.

Ms Fitzgerald said the "faith, trust and the confidence of the Irish people in the charity sector has been severely damaged by the recent allegations at Console and other charitable organisations".

She appealed to members of the public to contact the Charities Regulator is they have any concerns about a particular organisation. The same applies to state bodies or other agencies she said, but she repeatedly refused to be drawn on whether the HSE should have communicated their concerns about Console to the regulator sooner.

The Fine Gael deputy was speaking at the launch of the regulator's first strategic plan, as it prepares to be awarded investigative and enforcement powers in September.

John Farrelly, the newly appointed CEO of the regulator, said he is confident in his and his new team's ability to regulate the sector, and take action where necessary. Staff are being recruited at the moment including investigators and forensic accountants he said.

Registration of the country's 12,500 charities is underway at the moment.

Mr Farrelly told the Irish Independent that a number of applications are facing potential refusal. Refusal may be on the grounds of duplication, whether the function of the organisation is considered to achieve a charitable purpose and whether the people involved are fit to run the charity.

The regulator's new powers are being introduced ahead of schedule - they were initially supposed to come into effect in 2017. Despite this, Mr Farrelly said he is confident that they will be well equipped to exercise the new powers.

"I'm very confident. I've spent the last nine years of my life helping the nursing home sector after Leas Cross to be compliant with the law. I'm absolutely confident that the Regulator will be able to protect and regulate the charity sector," he said.

Irish Independent

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