SENATOR Eamonn Coghlan has hit out at what he has described as the "vulgar" manner in which the board of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) conducted its business in the past and expressed his concern over the impact the controversy was having on the fundraising efforts of the country's charities.
Mr Coghlan, who is a three-time Olympian and former world 5,000m champion – said that it was most unfair that other charities were now being "tarred with the same brush" as a result of the public concern over the level of pay being given to senior figures at the CRC.
"With regards to the CRC, I think it's actually vulgar what went on there with regard to their corporate governance and the way the board acted, and I feel very sorry for the volunteers and the individuals who benefit from the great work that fundraisers have done for that institution.
"I think that other charities being tarred with the same brush is most unfair," Mr Coghlan told the Sunday Independent.
Turning to his own longstanding association and role as a fundraiser for the Children's Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) in Crumlin, he said: "I'm very proud of my personal work and my professional work on behalf of the organisation and I'm proud of the work of the organisation and its volunteers whom I've dealt with in this country going back to 1985."
Asked by the Sunday Independent what level of remuneration he had received from the CMRF as its head of fundraising and development, Mr Coghlan said his salary had started out at €80,000 and had risen to €120,000 by the time he resigned from the position in 2007.
Commenting further on the matter, he added: "I drove my own car and paid my own health insurance.
"I was paid expenses if, for example, I flew over to America for a fund-raising event. You are absolutely welcome to check my payslips," Mr Coghlan said.
Following his retirement as head of fundraising, Mr Coghlan joined the board of the CMRF as an unpaid volunteer where he served up until his nomination to the Seanad by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2011.
Mr Coghlan has been associated with CMRF and Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin for more than two decades.
"We get zero per cent support from the Government and we have the best corporate governance of any private charity in the country,'' he said.
Notwithstanding his and the CMRF's own high standards when it comes to matters of corporate governance, Mr Coghlan said he and his colleagues welcomed the Government's intention to establish the Charities Regulatory Authority as part of the Charities Act.
"In the Children's Research Foundation, we have long been calling for the new Charities Act to be brought in and for regulation within the industry.
"We are very much in favour of that happening," he said.