Wednesday 29 March 2017

'Charity scandal cycle must end': Tánaiste

Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Damien Eagers
Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Damien Eagers
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said she wants to see an end to the cycle of scandals in the charity sector.

She said the public must have confidence donations are managed correctly at all times and that "anything less is a betrayal of the good will of so many people".

Ms Fitzgerald was speaking at the launch of Charities Institute Ireland (CII), a new organisation whose aim is to promote best practice and restore public trust in the sector.

The Justice Minister said the issue of charities has fallen out of the headlines, but there was a period when it was "all we talked about".

During the summer, suicide charity Console was mired in controversy as questions arose over the governance of funds. It led to the resignation of founder and chief executive Paul Kelly.

Ms Fitzgerald said that people have "become accustomed to talking about scandals in the voluntary sector" and then forget about it until the next issue arises.

"What I want to see is an end to that cycle," she added.

The Justice Department is determined to ensure that the Charities Regulatory Authority has the necessary resources to carry out its oversight roles, Ms Fitzgerald said.

She said that the work of CII will support the Regulatory Authority. The new organisation represents more than 180 charities, including the St Vincent de Paul and the Irish Cancer Society.

"The work of all of your organisations contributes so much to the public good," she said at the launch.

She said there has been few scandals when the overall number of organisations is considered but that effective regulation is important to ensure such controversies don't arise in future.

CII chief executive Lucy Masterson said charities face a challenge from an increasing demand on their services combined with pressure on public donations.

She added that the new regulatory requirements were actively sought by charities.

"Now that these provisions are being rolled out we are confident questions of public trust can be quickly addressed and confidence restored," she said.

Irish Independent

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