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Sunday 24 September 2017

Gay rights charity at the centre of storm reported series of deficits

Kieran Rose stepped down from the board this week Picture: Steve Humphreys
Kieran Rose stepped down from the board this week Picture: Steve Humphreys

Cormac McQuinn and Eilish O'Regan

The gay rights charity Glen, which has been at the centre of a storm of controversy over its finances, has reported a number of deficits since 2010, despite generous funding.

An analysis of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network's accounts between 2010 and 2015 also shows that its administrative expenses, including staff salaries, accounted for an average of 85pc of its costs over the same period.

The cost of projects run by Glen amounted to an average of almost 15pc of its expenditure during this time.

It comes as the Charity Regulator John Farrelly is investigating its finances following a voluntary disclosure by its outgoing chief Aine Duggan.

Kieran Rose, one of the charity's co-founders, stepped down from the board this week. This followed confirmation that the charity backed his Seanad campaign with support of €11,500, a sum later paid back.

The board, which met on Thursday night, yesterday announced that former senator Jillian van Turnhout was appointed to carry out a comprehensive review of the organisation from Monday.

A spokeswoman said: "Jillian has a wide range of experience of governance of not-for-profit organisations. She is widely respected for her independence and integrity. She will report to the board within a period of six weeks."

She will look at corporate governance and compliance issues as well as advise the board on strategic decisions regarding the charity's future.

Pay

Ms Turnhout said: "My experience with similar organisations will be of assistance in this regard."

The accounts show that the total spend on pay packages for staff went up in 2015, despite Glen having one less worker and a higher deficit that year than in 2014.

The highest deficit recorded by Glen in its annual income and expenditure account over the six years was the €201,924 reported in 2010. The charity reported a surplus of €113,669 in 2013 but ran a deficit again in the following two years.

The combined expenditure of wages and salaries, social security and pension costs makes up most of the administrative costs. Glen's most recently published accounts - for 2015 - show that remuneration costs for staff increased that year, despite the organisation having one less worker.

Aggregate, pay, social security and pension costs for the average of eight staff employed by Glen in 2015 came to some €439,147.

The average pay package in 2015 was almost €54,900, though one staff member is recorded as being paid between €60,000 and €70,000.

The average pay in 2014 was just over €48,000. The board did not respond to questions about its finances, which were put by the Irish Independent.

The HSE was due to fund Glen with around €200,000 in grants for 2017, but has held off on the payment until the Charity Regulator reports.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have broken their silence on the controversy. The party's general secretary Brian Sheehan was the executive director for almost nine years between December 2007 and October 2016.

A statement from the party said it was "committed to closer regulation of the charity sector".

A spokeswoman for the Social Democrats said: "The current issues relating to Glen are appropriately a matter for the Board of Glen and the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA)."

The spokeswoman also noted that the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) "may in due course decide if it is appropriate to consider the matter".

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy is a member of the PAC.

Irish Independent

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