It's horrendous. We believed that every cent we raised was for services – CRC dad
A FATHER who has raised thousands of euro for the Central Remedial Clinic has spoken of his shock and distress at revelations that it is paying salaries and pensions from charity funds.
Joe Watson and his wife Sinead, from Swords in Dublin, were so grateful to the clinic for the care it has given their son Charlie (10) that he got his whole family involved in raising money for services.
But he admitted yesterday that the shock disclosures about the use of charity funds for already well-paid staff had "hit him very hard".
"It is horrendous. I had absolutely no idea this was going on. I believed every cent we raised was going to the benefit of services, not into managers' pockets."
Charlie, who has cerebral palsy and goes to mainstream school, attends the clinic for occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
His family was told recently they would have to start paying for a gumshield used by Charlie because of a lack of muscle control in his jaw.
"It is just €10. It is not the money. But we were told they were asking for payment because of cutbacks. Then we learn about the money going on pay and pensions."
Joe and a friend raised €5,000 each for the clinic last year after organising a trek to Argentina.
"I relied on family to help me out. I asked work colleagues and strangers to sponsor me.
"They all donated for what they believed were the right reasons. In one of the fundraisers I had the Dublin fire brigade helping me out. My whole family became involved.
"We did not want it to rely solely on state funding. My mother used to take a lot of Santa bears to sell but she won't do it now."
Mr Watson said he feared such a public backlash to the disclosures that charity funding for the clinic would suffer and clients would lose out.
Lorraine Dempsey, chairwoman of the Special Needs Parents Association, said she was receiving many calls from parents who were no longer willing to fundraise and also from schools who had assisted in the collection efforts.
"Everybody is starting to ask questions," she said. "People are already hard-pressed financially and will find it difficult to contribute, knowing where some of the money is going."
Meanwhile, amid the crisis, hard-working frontline staff at the Central Remedial Clinic were going about their business as usual yesterday.
Minibuses pulled up outside, picking up and dropping young patients there for vital treatment and therapy.
Posters on the noticeboards advertised the Santa Bear Appeal, the clinic's most important annual fundraising event which takes place from today and which it had hoped would raise €1m in funds.