Sunday 25 June 2017

Dash to save job of Red Cross mole

Demands for Killeen to 'grab issue by neck' and defend whistleblower

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

MINISTER for Defence Tony Killeen has been called on to stage an eleventh-hour intervention to prevent the sacking next week of an Irish Red Cross whistleblower, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Noel Wardick, head of International Development at the IRC, was suspended after he revealed himself to be the author of an online blog which continually highlighted issues of poor governance and financial irregularities at the charity.

Officially, the disciplinary process is still ongoing but the Sunday Independent has learnt that it is to be concluded next week, and it is expected that Mr Wardick will be found guilty of "misconduct".

Mr Killeen, who has responsibility for the Irish Red Cross, has repeatedly refused to intervene in the issue, despite the embattled charity receiving almost €1m in funding from the State annually.

Supporters of Mr Wardick, including some members of the IRC's central council, have called on Mr Killeen to "grab the issue" by the neck and prevent the sacking.

"Wardick risked his own career to speak out and raise publicly what has been going wrong in the IRC. Now he faces the sack for his trouble. He needs not only to be protected but thanked for his courage," said one government-appointed council member.

Fine Gael's David Stanton has also called on Mr Killeen to stop sitting on his hands and sort the IRC out once and for all.

"His repeated refusal to get involved is disgraceful. I am very anxious that these issues are severely damaging the reputation of the Irish Red Cross. A total overhaul of the governance structure is needed and he has sat on his hands while all this controversy has rolled on," he said.

Mr Killeen repeated his refusal to get involved in the IRC controversy during questions in the Dail about the charity last week, including a number from his coalition partner Green Party TD Paul Gogarty, who asked him to explain his actions following recent revelations about the IRC.

The Irish Red Cross came in for criticism two weeks ago when we reported that it cancelled an independent review in to how €162,000 of donations lay idle in a Tipperary bank account controlled by then acting IRC chairman Tony Lawlor.

The IRC said that it had decided to end the independent inquiry on "cost grounds" and had replaced it with an internal committee investigation. Despite Mr Wardick's admission that he was the author of the critical blog, the IRC has controversially decided to continue its legal action against Google for facilitating the blog.

Sunday Independent

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