Wednesday 13 December 2017

Charity says former chief was worth €120,000 salary

Ailish O'Hora

AN Irish charity with operations in earthquake-hit Haiti has defended its decision to pay a former chief executive €120,000 last year.

Hugh Brennan was head-hunted from the Niall Mellon Township Trust and helped set up Haven with founder Leslie Buckley last year.

His salary accounted for one- third of Haven's payroll in 2009.

But the charity said his salary was justified and he was brought in because of his experience.

"Hugh's experience and expertise was central to Haven being established," a spokesperson said yesterday. "He basically set it up with the help of the founder."

Mr Brennan is no longer chief executive at Haven and is currently heading up emergency operations in Haiti following the devastating earthquake which hit the country earlier this year.

However, he now works as a consultant with the charity and his salary has been reduced, according to Haven's first annual report published yesterday.

According to the figures, Haven had reserves of €169,209 at the end of last year.

The report also shows that Haven founder Leslie Buckley pumped over €700,000 into the charity in 2009 and has committed €3m to it.

Mr Buckley made an estimated €45m from the sale of his stake in Digicel, the Caribbean mobile phone giant controlled by billionaire businessman Denis O'Brien.

The annual report also shows donations from Mr O'Brien and Mr Buckley through a company called Unigestion.

This firm runs Digicel's mobile operations in Haiti.

To date, Haven has built 300 houses in Haiti and has also completed upgrades on 500 existing homes.

In 2009, 560 volunteers travelled from Ireland to Haiti which resulted in 150 local people receiving training in construction and a further 40 in agriculture.

Haven's emergency response in Haiti's capital Port au Prince has included the installation of 1,300 toilets and 20 community shelters.

Local people have also been employed on 'cash for work' schemes.

Commenting on the earthquake, which resulted in the deaths of 230,000 people and 1.3 million being made homeless, Mr Buckley said Haven has redefined its strategy and goals in the wake of the earthquake.

"We started off promising to build 1,000 houses and in the days after the earthquake, I told the president of Haiti it was our ambition to construct 10,000 houses over a four-year period and help devastated families have a place to call home," he said in the annual report.

Irish Independent

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