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Action needed to secure charity independence, suggests report

A report published by an umbrella body of Irish charities says legal changes are needed to allow charities to flourish.

A volunteer fills goodie bags for a Christmas party for the homeless last year.
A volunteer fills goodie bags for a Christmas party for the homeless last year.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

A NEW REPORT published by an umbrella body representing almost a thousand Irish charities has suggested that the next government needs to enact immediate legislative change in order to stop the ability of Irish organisations to advocate effectively.

The Wheel, which represents 870 registered charities, has published a report which suggests that laws regulating public lobbying in Ireland meant that charities in receipt of state funding were barred from trying to “obtain changes in the law… or persuade people to adopt a particular view on a question of public policy”.

Further, the independence of charities was undermined by how vulnerable their funding was, with the potential cuts to the funds they use being enough to stop some charities from having a more active role.

Ivan Cooper, The Wheel’s director of advocacy, said charities were “more than service providers – they also provide a ‘public’ space where private citizens can participate in shaping public policy, and this advocacy role played by community and voluntary organisations is particularly important in underpinning participative democracy.”

The election of a new government offered an opportunity for an agreement that would allow such bodies to continue their duties without the fear of risking their funding.

The report was funded by the international non-profit Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which helps national and transnational charities to tackle ‘contemporary issues’.

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Gavan Reilly

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