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Sunday 23 July 2017

GOAL and Oxfam look at merger to make 'stronger impact'

Celine Fitzgerald, general manager of international aid charity Goal. Photo: Damien Eagers
Celine Fitzgerald, general manager of international aid charity Goal. Photo: Damien Eagers
Jim Clarken of Oxfam
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Two of Ireland's leading aid agencies, GOAL and Oxfam, are considering a merger into one organisation rooted in Ireland.

In a joint statement this afternoon the charities confirmed that they are entering formal talks on the merger.

If successful, it will see the organisations coming together under the name Oxfam GOAL.

The boards of both organisations have come to the agreement that a merger will allow for "stronger results".

"GOAL and Oxfam Ireland believe a successful merger would result in greater impact for people in poverty and crisis and increase effectiveness. Coming together will increase the scale and scope of the organisations’ humanitarian and development programmes around the world and strengthen their voice as advocates for the communities they support," the statement reads.

“We are very excited by the prospect of a successful merger. GOAL’s action-oriented approach and first responder ethos is core to their DNA and has saved millions of lives. Oxfam’s approach of practical action and people-led response, challenging the structures and systems that keep people locked in poverty, has led to real change across the world," Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken said.

"Bringing our organisations together will increase our scale, which means we can deliver greater impact for people in poverty and in crisis. We believe it will create new energy and dynamism through sharing programmatic, geographic and other synergies.”

Meanwhile, GOAL General Manager, Celine Fitzgerald said the agency had assessed the merits of remaining as a standalone entity.

"A merger with Oxfam would create a strong organisation in Ireland with a true global reach, saving and changing the lives of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people on our planet for the better," she said.

"Accordingly, both parties have now engaged in a formal process to assess the practicalities and impacts of a merged entity.”

The news comes just weeks after it was revealed that GOAL auditors Deloitte said there was "material uncertainty" over its future due to a dependence on donors for funds.

The charity's funding for 2017 is expected to be just over half of the €210m it received from donors in 2015.

Speaking at that time, Ms Fitzgerald said the agency had a major battle on its hands to regain the confidence of donors after its Syrian aid programme became embroiled in an investigation into allegedly fraudulent procurement practices.

The cut in funding will lead to the closure of programmes in India, Nepal, Yemen and Ukraine during 2017.

In a report on the charity's financial statements for 2015, Deloitte said "conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt over the company's ability to continue as a going concern".

The charities will now begin a "robust" due diligence exercise as they consider the possibility of a merger.

A spokesperson for GOAL told Independent.ie that while it the agencies were at the very early stage of the process, both agencies were complementary in the work that they each do and it is hoped that the scope for redeployment will minimize as much as possible any potential job losses.

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