Concern among members that fees will be used to pay hefty legal bills
The Irish Countrywomen’s Association is carrying out an internal audit in order to make itself more “effective and efficient”.
The troubled organisation has also hinted to members that the ICA may be facing a significant legal bill, after it hired premium legal firm Mason, Hayes and Curran to help shepherd it through its corporate governance woes.
The ICA has been mired in controversy for months, after it emerged that three women had been kicked off its national executive board.
Patricia Madden, Carol Grogan and Joanne Dunphy Allen were removed without being given any reason, and the unusual decision was kept secret from the majority of the membership.
All three had previously raised concerns about the ICA’s corporate governance.
A number of controversies emerged in the wake of the women’s departure, including over the sale of Daniel O’Donnell tickets, criticism from the Charities Regulator, unusual payments to a senior member and the selling off of fine art.
The ICA has remained tight-lipped about the controversy, but last week issued a lengthy statement, seeking to draw a line under the issue.
The ICA has now shared a treasurers report with members, following a meeting on January 28.
In it, the biggest and oldest women’s organisation revealed that it has decided to carry out an internal audit.
“As part of the workings of the board, a decision to progress with internal audit to help us be an effective and efficient organisation and to be the best that we can be in the day-to-day operations of the organisation,” it said.
The treasurers report also addressed the issue of “legal fees”. Members were told that the ICA was still finalising its year-end accounts for 2022.
“All expenditure will be provided to the membership as always when complete.
“I would like to flag that very important work on the legal structure is being undertaken by the board that should have been done over a number of years. We have been faced with a large body of work which we, the board, are committed to completing,” the report said.
A well-placed source advised that the ICA is already estimated to have spent €100,000 on the services of Mason, Hayes and Curran.
As good as fully paid up
There has been some anxiety among members who fear that their membership fees may be going towards hefty legal bills, in order to address concerns raised by the Charities Regulator and attempts to resolve the ongoing controversies.
The ICA is estimated to have around 6,000 members.
According to the treasurers report, so far this year only 505 women had paid their €50 membership fee, and only two of the ICA’s 27 federations were “as good as fully paid up”.
“Can you please remind all office holders particularly guild presidents, guild secretaries and guild treasurers, and of course all members of the federation committee that they cannot perform any function in their capacity as an ICA office holder if they are not a fully paid-up member.
“This also applies to members who hold positions on national committees,” it said.
The ICA did not respond to requests for comment.