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Column: The charity sector needs a legal and regulatory body – immediately

Following revelations that top-up payments were being made to staff of the Central Remedial Clinic, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive investigation into how charities are run in this country, writes Anne-Maree Quinn.

Anne-Maree Quinn

FOLLOWING THE REVELATIONS surrounding top-up payments made to staff of the Central Remedial Clinic, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive investigation into how charities are run in this country. The fact that monies raised by the Friends and Supporters of the Remedial Clinic should be used in this way is a deep source of concern.

Since the news broke, many people have expressed their utter disbelief and shock that money given in good faith by the public and intended to go towards the needs of adults and children with disabilities, should instead be used further enhance executives’ pay. If this breach of trust is not addressed immediately, the actions of the CRC could certainly lead to a severe lack of trust in Irish charities.

In July this year, the Government announced it would introduce a charity regulator. What revelations this week demonstrate is how truly necessary and urgent it is for both a legal and regulatory framework in the charity sector. A regulator would play a vital role in ensuring that voluntary contributions are managed and allocated appropriately to the direct provision of services, facilities and equipment. It would also play an important role in defining what is a not-for-profit charitable body as opposed to specialist, profit-making health services. Further discussion regarding the salaries currently being paid to CEOs in the charity sector is also warranted.

This is simply not acceptable

To take the example of the CRC again, it is difficult to understand why the organisation has been obliged to cut services but is still provided with a State salary of €106,900 for a former chief executive. At a time of recession and cut-backs, which have been particularly severe for service users of the charity sector, this is simply not acceptable.

The Irish public has always responded in a generous and timely manner to requests for support from charities, whether at home or abroad. It is shameful that their goodwill has been abused in this way. There is a real danger that this generosity will be withdrawn if the Government does not act now to put in place the necessary safeguards that will ensure that the publics fundraising efforts do not go astray.

The government needs to take whatever steps are necessary to determine exactly what has been transpiring within the CRC, and to restore the public confidence that is so vital if charities are to survive in these difficult times.

Anne-Maree Quinn is a Senior Occupational Therapist working in Primary Care.

We’re interested in your ideas and opinions – do you have a story you would like to see featured in Opinion & Insight? Email opinions@thejournal.ie

Read: Ross calls for immediate resignation of CRC Board over salary top-ups

Read: ‘Ministers knew’ about top-up payments for senior health staff

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