Sunday 20 August 2017

Gay rights charity had seven credit cards in use, says review

Glen chairman Kieran Rose. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Glen chairman Kieran Rose. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Eilish O'Regan and Shane Phelan

Seven credit cards were in use by staff at Glen, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network charity, it has emerged.

They were used to buy groceries and pay for travel to conferences and meals in some cases, said external consultant Jillian van Turnhout who drew up a report on how the charity was run.

She said the manner in which the credit cards were used amounted to "extremely poor practice" but that nobody benefited materially and there was "no misappropriation of funds".

Ms van Turnhout has spent a number of weeks in the offices of the troubled organisation which is currently under review by the Charities Regulator John Farrelly for its financial management and is now to be wound down.

She said one of the credit cards was in the name of the charity's co-founder Kieran Rose who was not on the staff but on the board.

He resigned last month after it emerged that the charity backed his unsuccessful Seanad political campaign to the tune of €11,500. He later paid this back.

Read More: Charities that fail to follow best practice can have no excuses

Mr Rose told the Irish Independent yesterday there was a credit card in his name, but insisted he had never used it.

"When the organisation was set up, I got a credit card. I didn't ask for it. I was just given it, but I never used it.

"So the account is there that Kieran Rose had a credit card, but I actually haven't seen the account and never used it."

He said that when the first card expired he never picked up the card that was issued in its place.

"I think the card was sent to the Glen office and one of the people there cut it up and threw it away because I hadn't collected it."

Ms van Turnhout said organisations should treat credit cards similar to a bank account.

The charity was the recipient of hundreds of thousands of euros in State and philanthropic funding in 2015.

That was the year of the marriage equality referendum and the most recent year for which accounts for Glen are publicly available.

Income that year included more than €112,000 from the HSE, including €25,000 for LGBT mental health.

Meanwhile, US billionaire Chuck Feeney's Atlantic Philanthropies gave it €150,000.

In 2015 its total income from all sources came to €685,390.

However, it also had a deficit of almost €92,000. Ms van Turnhout said Glen now has minimal financial reserves and it has seen its staff fall from eight a year ago to three.

The HSE said it paid out €17,416 to Glen this year towards the cost of the LGBT Helpline and the post of Director of Mental Health.

The helpline is now to become a separate entity with its own board and other work in the area helping employers improve diversity will be farmed out. She defended her independence in doing the Glen review. Asked if she knew Simon Nugent, the chairman of Glen's finance committee, she said 20 years ago he was president of the Irish Youth Council and she succeeded him. She also served on a board with him.

"I was not friends with anyone sitting around that board," she added. "I am not denying that I knew him. I have no problem declaring it."

Mr Nugent did not respond for comment.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News