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Thursday 18 January 2018

Charitable group paid strategist €60k a year

Frank Flannery at Leinster House in 2012. Picture: Tom Burke
Frank Flannery at Leinster House in 2012. Picture: Tom Burke

John Downing and Niall O'Connor

FRANK Flannery was paid €60,000 per year to work as a consultant for a charitable group to help implement the recommendations of a report that he produced for the Government.

The controversy surrounding the former Fine Gael strategist developed further after it emerged that he is resigning from the Forum on Philanthropy.

The forum was tasked with increasing philanthropic and charitable donations and developing "fundraising capacity and best practice across the sector".

Mr Flannery was appointed as chairman of the forum in 2011, after Fine Gael came to power. The state-appointed post was unpaid.

However, last night, the association of independent philanthropic organisations in Ireland said it paid Mr Flannery to "drive the implementation" of the forum's report.

Philanthropy Ireland said it believed that the implementation of the Report of the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising, published in July 2012, was vital to sustaining and growing investment in good causes.

Mr Flannery was employed for 18 months on €60,000 per annum. His work involved a small amount of Government lobbying on minor tax changes, but was largely on the organisational side.

"In 2012, the board of Philanthropy Ireland engaged Mr Frank Flannery on a consultancy contract of €60,000 per annum to help drive the implementation of the Forum Report.


"In the intervening period, Mr Flannery has contributed to the successful implementation of a number of the recommendations of the Forum Report," the organisation said.

The funding to pay Mr Flannery came from the contributions of donor organisations – not the taxpayer.

Philanthropy Ireland is registered as a charity but does not fundraise from the public. Its funds come from membership fees of philanthropic organisations. Its two main funders are Atlantic Philanthropies and the One Foundation.

"Prior to signing the agreement, permission was sought from Philanthropy Ireland's two major donors to enter the agreement. The board believed that Mr Flannery's extensive experience and knowledge of the not-for-profit sector, the fundraising challenges it faced and his appreciation of the threat to the sector's capacity to deliver services uniquely positioned him to help drive the implementation of the Forum Report," the organisation said.

It said Mr Flannery played a major role in a number of significant initiatives:

* Securing matching funding from the private sector for the first national giving campaign;

* Design and implementation of the national giving campaign run by Philanthropy Ireland, which attracted nationwide attention in November 2013;

* Securing additional corporate and international political support for the philanthropic sector in Ireland;

* Creating the structures to support a Social Innovation fund, which will stimulate private philanthropy to support protection of our most vulnerable people through a focus on harnessing the power of Ireland's social innovations.

Mr Flannery's resignation from the Forum on Philanthropy followed his decision to quit the board of the Rehab Group as well as from a number of roles in Fine Gael.

Massive pressure is mounting on Mr Flannery to appear in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in order to answer questions on the pension he received from Rehab.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore reiterated his call for Mr Flannery to appear in front of PAC to answer questions on monies he received from Rehab.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said he believed Mr Flannery has "metaphorically given the two fingers to PAC" by refusing to agree to attend.

Irish Independent

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