Saturday 24 March 2018

Cancer charity boss will take €10k pay cut to help fund support scheme

Cut: John McCormack. Photo: Tom Burke
Cut: John McCormack. Photo: Tom Burke

Eilish O'Regan and Robin Shiller

The Irish Cancer Society's chief executive, John McCormack, has announced he will take a €10,000 pay cut, reducing his salary to €135,000, to help fund its financial support scheme for children.

Mr McCormack made his announcement as volunteers gathered at Croke Park yesterday to launch the society's fundraising Daffodil Day.

The announcement followed the anger and shock generated earlier this week when the society announced it was closing its €1.8m financial support scheme, which provided assistance to patients for extra hardship expenses associated with their illness. It later made a partial U-turn, reinstating the fund, but only for families with children suffering from cancer, which will cost €200,000.

Several volunteers who brave the "rain and cold" to sell daffodils on March 11 have expressed surprise at the salary levels of its executives.

Mr McCormack said: "We need support more than ever... I have decided myself to take a €10,000 pay cut effective from January 1, as a contribution towards the €200,000 needed."

Funds will be found "from other resources" to make up the full fund. The society has 10 staff earning over €70,000.

When asked if the Irish Cancer Society could recover from the fiasco, he said: "We have to recover. We need volunteers to come back and I hope they do, we need to explain to them what we have to do, to tell them that we haven't forgotten all the work they have done. I'll be calling people all of this week, I know these volunteers, I'm always on the road," he said.

"The battle against cancer will be won or lost in the communities, and I will be meeting with people in person and explaining to them why we had to take this very sad and tough decision, because of what we were faced with our income falling in 2015."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said his department will look at increasing the €300,000 it currently gives to the Irish Cancer Society to help with patient transport.

The minister also appealed to the public to support the charity, which he said plays an important role in advocacy, putting pressure on governments to bring in screening and other cancer service improvements.

Mr Varadkar said the Department of Health's cancer budget this year has gone up by €10m.

"But that is for services, including more doctors, nurses specialists and cancer drugs," he said, adding that children with cancer and the terminally ill automatically get a medical card.

Additional supports are paid by the Department of Social Protection, including exceptional needs payments, he added.

Irish Independent

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