THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has said that the Charities regulator will be appointed by October/November 2014.
Speaking on RTE’s News at One, the minister said the legislation to establish the Charities Regulatory Authority has been passed but not enacted and that the government is addressing the matter. “We are committed to it,” he said, adding although it was under the remit of the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter he said he believed it would be in place by October or November this year.
When asked what the delay was about, he said, “there has been a number of technical issues and consultations have to take place – this is all in hand now,” said Reilly.
Timeline for action
The minister’s clarification on the timeline comes after The Wheel, the national organisation that represents and supports community, voluntary and charitable organisations in Ireland, called for the government to implement the plan to appoint the Charities Regulator.
A survey carried out by the group on 150 Irish charities found that 97 per cent of the charities surveyed believed that the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) affair has damaged public trust in Irish charities, and 54 per cent believe that this damage may be permanent.
It is important to note that this survey was done previous to yesterday’s revelations about the CRC at the Public Accounts Committee.
The survey also found that 53 per cent of those charities that fundraise from the public say that the negative publicity has had a negative impact on their fundraising, while 26 per cent say they have received concerned phone calls from donors and members of the public
Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said the crisis of public confidence has engulfed the charity sector since the revelations about the failures at the CRC.
“While we know that the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRC) will not be a panacea against governance failures and malpractice in charities, all stakeholders agree that it will set clear requirements in relation to governance practice, activity and financial reporting, and increase transparency and accountability. In doing so it will provide the public with the necessary assurances to maintain public giving,” she said.
State intervention in CRC
Speaking on the News at One also, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin said that it was time for the government to act and step in. He said that the CRC should be brought under state control , so as to restore confidence.
Minister Reilly said he believed Martin’s suggestion “might be a bit premature” adding “I am not ruling it out totally”.
He did say, however, that he was aware that if the government did act prematurely it might send the the wrong message. He said the government are supporting the staff, stating there is an administrator within the CRC.
He said he couldn’t commend the staff of the CRC more, stating they should be very proud of all their work over the years.
Reilly added that the section 38 groups that are not in compliance have been given up until the end of January to put their plan forward as to how they will make themselves compliant, adding that once the section 38s are dealt with, the HSE will be looking into section 39 organisations.
Although they are not state employees, he said that they are in receipt of tax-payers money and he expects them to be compliant also. He said some are in receipt of up to €250,000 – a substantial amount of money – he said.
He urged members of the public not to be deterred from donating money to charities because of the recent “debacle” with the CRC, asking them to continue to be generous.