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Shatter: Charity regulatory board will be set up by Easter

All registered charities will have to provide reports to the authority each year on their activities.

Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE BOARD OF a new Charities Regulatory Authority will be in place before Easter, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said today.

The Minister for Justice and Equality said this evening that he will issue a call next week for expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons who wish to be considered for appointment to the board of a new Charities Regulatory Authority.

He said this will be taking place with a view to making appointments before Easter to allow the authority to come into operation at that time.

This announcement followed a comment from Minister for Health James Reilly today that a charities regulator will be appointed by October/November 2014.

Shatter said that arrangements are also being made to fill the post of CEO of the new authority on an interim basis by the end of February this year.

He made reference to the recent top-ups scandal, saying:

The recent revelations about certain organisations in the charitable sector have understandably damaged public trust and confidence. The commencement of the key measures in the Charities Act will provide the increased transparency and accountability that will allow this trust to be rebuilt.

He said that he has recently received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to appoint an interim CEO and a number of other staff “from within existing resources”.

According to Shatter, an early priority for the new authority will be the creation and publication of a statutory register of charities.

“All registered charities will be required to provide reports to the authority each year on their activities and these reports will be made available to the public,” said the Minister.

“This will provide a much needed increase in transparency and accountability in the charitable sector, and will support the good practice in charity governance and management that is critical to a vibrant charity sector that commands the trust and confidence of donors and beneficiaries alike.”

The news was welcomed by The Wheel, which represents 930 Irish charities, welcomed the new, describing it as a “breakthrough”.

Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said: “We would like to congratulate Minister Shatter on making good on his commitment to bring the Charity Regulator into operation in  2014.”

Concern also welcomed the news, saying it has been “calling for this on a consistent basis since 2009″.

Meanwhile, Anne Hanniffy, CEO of Fundraising Ireland, said that the first job of the Regulator should be to introduce mandatory financial and operational standards so that donors can determine immediately where their money is going.

She said that the CRC revelations “have betrayed not just the hard-working staff, the families and the clients of CRC but the entire charity sector in Ireland”.

Boardmatch, the national corporate governance charity of Ireland, said it “broadly” welcomes the Minister’s announcement, but it is “cautious about the impact in the short term of the establishment of the Charity Authority”.

Earlier this week, the Central Remedial Clinic appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the top-ups scandal.

It emerged that the former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely received a retirement pay-off of more than double what he had previously disclosed to TDs.

The chief executive of the HSE said today the CRC is not doomed because of the recent controversy.

Read: Charity regulator to be appointed in the second half of this year, says Reilly>

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