Sunday 19 November 2017

Seanad candidate refuses to reveal how much he paid charity for printing

Leinster House (Stock picture)
Leinster House (Stock picture)

Eilish O'Regan and Cormac McQuinn

Failed Seanad candidate Kieran Rose, who used the printing facilities of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen) for his election literature, last night declined to say how much he paid back for the use of the printer.

Charity Glen has been at the centre of controversy after it emerged that the Charities Regulator is investigating allegations about financial mismanagement there.

Another issue being probed is the use of the charity's printers during Mr Rose's unsuccessful Seanad campaign last year.

A theme of his campaign -cited on his election literature - was "openness, transparency and accountability".

Mr Rose, the charity's former co-chairman, reimbursed the cost of the printing.

However, last night he declined to say how much it cost and when he paid the money back.

Mr Rose said he couldn't comment now but that he hoped to do so "fairly soon".

Questions have been raised about the charity's finances by Glen's executive director Áine Duggan, who brought her concerns to the board several months ago.

In office only since last October, she made a voluntary disclosure to the Charities Regulator.

Ms Duggan has tendered her resignation and is to step down as executive director soon.

A spokesperson for the board of Glen last night said that an external financial company was reviewing the records of the organisation.

Governance

Among the issues reportedly being investigated are use of company credit cards, how the charity's finances were managed and corporate governance.

It is understood that an official in the office of the Charities Regulator has been assigned to assess financial reports.

The charity was the recipient of hundreds of thousands of euro of State and philanthropic funding in 2015.

That was the year of the marriage equality referendum and the most recent year for which accounts for Glen are publicly available.

Income that year included more than €112,000 from the HSE, including €25,000 for LGBT mental health.

Meanwhile, US billionaire Chuck Feeney's Atlantic Philanthropies gave it €150,000.

In 2015 its total income from all sources came to €685,390. However, it also had a deficit of almost €92,000.

It had an average of eight staff members that year with combined wages, social security and pension costs coming to €439,147.

A spokeswoman for the Charities Regulator said the organisation "does not comment or speculate on concerns that it may have received", saying that "to do so could prejudice any potential future investigation".

She said that "when a concern about a named organisation is raised with the regulator, a member of the regulator's compliance unit will assess the information and take appropriate action".

"In some cases this involves working with an organisation to address items of concern and in other cases it could require an investigation."

The findings will be made public.

Irish Independent

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