Wednesday 26 November 2014

Editorial: 'Top-ups' scandal was just tip of the iceberg

Published 12/12/2013 | 23:32

29/11/2013. Pictured is the Central Remedial Clinic on Vernon ave, Clontarf. The chairty has come under fire today after it has been discovered that money donated by the public is being used to top up salaries of well-paid staff. Photo: El Keegan
The Central Remedial Clinic. Photo: El Keegan

The Central Remedial Clinic has, for many years, been one of the most respected disability organisations in the country. However, it has now emerged that the 'top-ups' saga which has discredited the organisation was just the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard further disturbing revelations about the financial affairs of the CRC which have left the organisation's corporate reputation in tatters.

One of the most disquieting issues of this sorry saga was the revelations by Shane Ross, the TD for south Dublin, that €3m was moved from the accounts of the Friends and Supporters of the CRC to the CRC itself in the middle of last year to prop up the employees' pension fund.

While up to 70 employees could have been affected by a deficit in the pension fund, Paul Kiely, a board member and former chief executive, conceded that he was the largest beneficiary from this decision.

This was money raised from lotteries and private funding by individuals to further the aims of the organisation to help and support children with disabilities.

The revelation at the PAC that the CRC has paid €666,000 a year to the Mater Hospital also raises further disturbing questions into how the organisation is being run.

It also raises substantial questions as to how the public can have confidence in how their taxes are being spent in the voluntary hospital sector.

It now seems to many people, and especially to supporters of the good work done by the clinic, that it is long past the time for the entire board to consider its position and take the advice of Mr Ross, who first highlighted this matter, and resign.

What has happened in the last 10 days has been very damaging to the CRC, and especially to its fund-raising efforts which are obviously needed to supplement the grants it gets from the HSE.

The public needs to be re-assured about where its taxes and donations are going. But it is abundantly clear that unless the non-government/charity sector move quickly to complete openness and transparency it will lose the confidence of supporters and fund-raisers alike. Public confidence is of the utmost importance and it badly needs to be restored.

 

Irish Independent

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