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Ireland’s Call Initiative wraps up donations after €90,000 spent on flying home healthcare workers

The fundraising initiative could not confirm how many of those who were flown home were recruited by the HSE


ICI said that it had arranged to fly home 67 healthcare workers in total. Photo: Getty Images Stock

ICI said that it had arranged to fly home 67 healthcare workers in total. Photo: Getty Images Stock

Getty Images

ICI said that it had arranged to fly home 67 healthcare workers in total. Photo: Getty Images Stock

The Ireland’s Call Initiative spent over €90,000 of donated money flying home healthcare workers but does not know how many have been recruited by the HSE to fight Covid-19.

The fundraising initiative founded by Neil Sands, a Defence Forces reservist, has now announced that it is wrapping up.

ICI said that it had arranged to fly home 67 healthcare workers in total. Last week official figures said that only 54 health staff in total had been recruited to help fight Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic in Ireland.

A spokesman for the ICI told the Irish Independent that the initiative did not know exactly how many people it had flown home were now working in the health service but “some” of them were.

ICI was set up in March by Mr Sands to try to cover the cost of flights for international healthcare workers who wanted to come back to work in Irish hospitals for the pandemic. The ICI was separate to the 'Be On Call for Ireland' recruitment drive which was set up by the HSE. Mr Sands also helped to transport €500,000 of PPE equipment which Conor McGregor had bought from China.

The ICI raised €85,184 from public donations on its GoFundMe page, and also received €7,320 from a private donation. In a statement on Friday night, ICI said that it had spent €91,610.50 on 154 flights for 67 healthcare workers. The remaining €893.50 will be donated to charity.

This week, 21 nurses will arrive on flights paid for by the ICI which will be the last transport it arranges. In total, it will have flown back 12 healthcare staff from Australia including an Air Corps technician.

A spokesman for the ICI said the technician was an air ambulance driver.

The ICI sponsored flights for 20 healthcare staff from New Zealand including 12 doctors, 3 nurses, 2 radiographers, 1 pharmacist, 1 healthcare assistant and 1 physician associate. It also covered flights for 23 nurses from the Philippines, 2 doctors from Malaysia, 2 doctors from Pakistan,3 doctors and 1 nurse from Canada, 1 nurse from India, 1 doctor from Nigeria, 1 doctor from the US and 1 doctor from the UK.

The ICI said that it was set up to help the “country’s medical front line in the fight against Covid-19” and it had achieved this.

“Figures show that around a quarter of all Irish cases are healthcare workers, meaning the work that Ireland’s Call has done was vital in providing reinforcements to step up and help wherever they are needed,” the statement said.

ICI also revealed that it has been running since the start of March without being registered as a company. It said it had submitted documents to the Companies Registration Office this week, and would file full accounts “in the coming weeks.”

“ICI has been fully compliant at all times in relation to its operations and has been supported and assisted by L.K. Shields Solicitors from the outset,” the ICI said.

The ICI also said that it had helped to provide 43 medics with accommodation “to self-isolate effectively for 14 days.”

“The initiative sourced housing near various hospitals across the country, which varied from hotel rooms, to commercial rental and privately-owned properties. Ireland’s Call also received numerous generous offers from members of the public offering up their vacant properties to healthcare workers across the country. Maynooth University also offered up 20 of its rooms for use,” the ICI said.

It emerged last week that the Defence Forces had launched an investigation into Mr Sands after Conor McGregor tweeted a picture of the ICI founder wearing his Defence Forces uniform on unofficial business.

Mr Sands had been helping to arrange a PPE delivery which Mr McGregor had paid for. The Sunday Times reported that Mr Sands had been told he was only allowed to wear his uniform for official tasks.

Online Editors