Retailers send 'Santa Bears' back over CRC fallout
RETAILERS have started sending boxes of CRC's iconic 'Santa Bears' back en masse.
The brand was last night described as "toxic" after shocking new details emerged about how charity funds are used for pensions and top-up payments.
Vincent Jennings, CEO of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association, said that shop owners don't want to be linked to the scandal.
"Retailers don't want to be associated with this in any way. The CRC is seen as being toxic and it doesn't take long for a retailer to realise this isn't worthwhile."
The initiative is the largest fundraising initiative for the Central Remedial Clinic, but now retailers are returning the packs of badges and keychains.
The CRC insists 98pc of funds raised through the Santa Bear campaign go directly to the provision of services and not to top up salaries and pensions.
Dozens of newsagents across the country have now confirmed they don't want them taking up space on their shelves.
Jerry Dalton, owner of Alex's newsagent in Dun Laoghaire, south Dublin, is one such retailer who wants nothing to do with the Santa Bear campaign.
"We've had one or two people who said it was ridiculous and we just don't want the grief," he said.
Ellen Ryan, a mother-of-four from Cork, whose 13-year-old son Cathal has Erb's palsy and attends the CRC's clinic in Clontarf, north Dublin, said she has been selling the Santa Bears for years to raise funds for the clinic. But since the scandal broke, she too, wants nothing to do with them. "We just can't sell the bears," she said.
Lorraine Dempsey, chairwoman of the Special Needs Parents Association, said parents of children with disabilities started cancelling their direct debits to the CRC when the scandal broke a fortnight ago.
"I understand why but ultimately this will damage our children," said Ms Dempsey, whose daughter Rianna suffers from cerebral palsy.
Maeve Kavanagh, (41), from Phibsboro, whose son Daniel, (5) has autism and cerebral palsy and attends the CRC school, agreed that services for disabled children will pay the price.
But even her own 11-year-old daughter refuses to sell the Santa Bears at school because of the scandal.
Another parent whose child attends the CRC said schools are also shunning the bears this year. "Santa Bears are being handed back in from schools because they just can't sell them," said Ciara Nagle.