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Sunday 19 November 2017

Battens charity blames donation slump on top-up scandal

Aishling Phelan

A charity for sick children has blamed revelations about salary top-ups from public donations for its 30 per cent drop in donation intake this Christmas.

Tony Heffernan of the Saoirse Foundation, said its donations had dropped an average 20 to 30 per cent this year.

‘‘We are working for no pay, no salary top-ups, people can see where every cent goes," he told independent.ie.

‘‘It’s just a pity that we are getting tarnished with the same brush."

He believes the revelations of salary top-ups from charity donations at the Central Remedial Clinic have damaged the charity sector as a whole and created ‘‘a sad sentiment.’’

Although he acknowledged that people were experiencing financial constraints this Christmas, he insisted that the CRC revelations were a contributory factor.

‘‘We’re not like the greedy boys, as we call them, at all,’’ he added.

The charity runs BUMBLEance, a state of the art ambulance for sick children and Bee For Battens, the National Charity for Batten Disease.

Mr Heffernan’s lost his daughter Saoirse to Battens disease in 2010 and his son Liam is currently living with the condition.

BUMBLEance brought two children home to the west of Ireland this week for their last Christmas at home.

Mr Heffernan said it takes a huge amount of pressure off families and allows them to relax at this time of year.

He said it was important that people knew that ‘‘every cent’’ donated to the charity goes to helping and assisting sick children.

‘‘The charity will continue to work hard, we will continue to work even through Christmas,’’ he said.

The Saoirse Foundation is asking people to donate mobile phones to fund the digitalised ambulance.

‘’Thirty thousand old mobile phones will keep it running for a year,’’ he said.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has also blamed recent controversies on charity donations for the 25 per cent drop in its donation intake this Christmas.

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