'GOAL requires a fresh start in terms of leadership' - Irish charity CEO Barry Andrews steps down as inquiry into charity’s multimillion-euro Syria operation continues
The chief executive of Irish charity Goal has stepped down and a new appointment is expected to be made in the coming days.
Barry Andrews, a former Fianna Fáil minister, reportedly informed the Goal board in August of his plans to resign after several years as CEO of the agency.
It follows a US led investigation into the charity’s multimillion-euro Syria operation, where an inquiry was held into alleged bribery and bid-rigging involving suppliers on the Turkey-Syria border.
As a result of the investigation, carried out by the US Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Department of Foreign Affairs withheld €10.1m funding from Goal pending the results of the inquiry.
“I have served as CEO of GOAL for four years, during which time GOAL has completed a number of highly effective humanitarian responses. Our long term work has evolved significantly and I have enjoyed working with highly motivated colleagues," Barry Andrews said in a statement this morning.
“The circumstances of the OIG investigation over the last seven months has been extremely uncomfortable for GOAL and we are working hard on correcting the weaknesses identified and providing all necessary assurances to our donors.
“I do not for one moment resent the robust oversight of our donor partners and if we are serious about retaining public trust and managing large sums of taxpayers’ money, then this type of oversight is not only to be expected, but to be welcomed.
“GOAL applies exacting standards to the management of its programmes and in my leadership role over the last few years I have endeavoured to apply those standards.
“However, it has become clear to me that GOAL requires a fresh start in terms of leadership. To that end, I informed GOAL’s Board of Directors last August of my intention to step down as CEO as soon as a suitable replacement could be identified."
Mr Andrews has agreed to continue as interim CEO and a new appointment will be announced in the next few days starting next month. In the meantime, he will continue to lead the Senior Management Team.
Chairperson of GOAL Anne O'Leary thanked Mr Andrews for his dedication and commitment to GOAL over the past four years.
“Barry was appointed as CEO of GOAL during a turbulent time in the organisation’s history. Not only was he largely responsible for helping stabilise the organisation in the months following his appointment; he also led GOAL during a period of strong growth," she said in a statement this morning.
“The number of people that GOAL has been able to reach has increased during his tenure from approximately four million people across 13 countries at the end of 2012, to 12 million people across 19 countries by the end of 2015.
“Most of the growth in relief services was driven by the ongoing conflict in war-torn Syria and by the response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, two crises in which GOAL played a significant humanitarian and advocacy role.
“I want to thank Barry for the outstanding leadership he has provided to GOAL over the last four years. He has also been an outstanding spokesperson for GOAL on the national and international stage and in particular has been a courageous advocate on behalf of the people of Syria."
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he had been "seriously concerned about the issues under investigation by the US relating to procurement practices for humanitarian assistance operations for Syria."
"My department has been in regular contact with the US authorities and with Goal. I outlined the Government’s concerns in a meeting with the chair and members of the Board of Goal last month.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has withheld €10.1m in planned funding for Goal pending further clarity on the US investigation. The Department is maintaining regular contact with the Board of Goal.”