Sunday, February 14, 2010

After nearly 20 years its time for Irish Red Cross Board Members to step down

Over the course of the last few months this blog has talked with many people deeply concerned with the ongoing crisis within the Irish Red Cross. Hard working volunteers and genuinely dedicated Central Council and Executive Committee members remain saddened by the constant stream of negative media articles and parliamentary questions in Dail Eireann, all of which most people accept accurately reflect the reality within the Society.

At the end of 2009 the former Chairman, David Andrews, decided to retire his position after ten years selfless service. In his retirement statement he remarked that he felt it was important to hand over the reins to new blood and that while his contribution was ongoing it was time for others to lead the organisation forward. Mr. Andrews dedicated his whole life to public service and clearly he learned a valuable lesson during his impressive career: there is a time to make one's contribution and a time to hand over to the next generation. Mr. Andrews is to be highly commended for applying this principle to his Chairmanship of the Irish Red Cross and it speaks volumes of the man that he would step down from a job he thoroughly enjoyed doing so as to facilitate the next generation of leadership.

Unfortunately for the Irish Red Cross other Executive Committee Board members are far less selfless and despite having ruled and dominated the Society for nearly twenty years refuse to step aside. This has the effect of preventing the next generation of leadership from developing and flourishing. In order to address the deep rooted crisis within the Irish Red Cross this blog, following its regular conversations with Central Council members, certain Executive Committee members and volunteers around the country is recommending the following:

1. Any Executive Committee member who has served on Executive for twelve years or more step down at the end of their current term in May 2010 and not put themselves forward for re-election. This blog understands this would imply three Executive Committee members would step aside. As the recommendation would affect no more than three members there would be no serious loss or break in continuity of Board knowledge, experience and understanding.

2. Further to 1 above, Executive Committee members, once they have stood down because of service of twelve years or more, agree not to be a member of the Executive Committee for a minimum of six years (until 2017).

3. Any Executive Committee member who has held an Honorary Officer position for more than twelve years step down in May 2010 from both the Officer position and the Executive Committee and as with point 2 above agree not to be a member of the Executive Committee again until 2017 the earlist. Any exisiting Executive Committee member who currently or has in the past held an Honorary Officer position for more than twelve years agree never to again hold any Honorary Officer position.

4. The proposed position of National Director of Units not be granted 'ex officio' Central Council and/or Executive Committee membership. Everyone this blog has spoken to has stated that they believe the current governance proposal to grant 'ex officio' Board membership to the proposed National Director of Units is designed to ensure the current Vice Chairman of the Society remains an Executive Committee member indefinitely. Everone spoken to accepts the National Director of Units position, should it go ahead, has been created for the current Vice Chairman.

5. The Government needs to immediately appoint a strong, dynamic and modernising Chairperson. Its failure to do so is exacerbating existing tensions and problems.

6. The Society needs to, as soon as possible, openly advertise for and fill the permanent Secretary General position. The current arrangement and incumbent is clearly unsatisfactory for many Executive Committee and Central Council members. Rumours abound that relations between headquarters staff and the current Acting Secretary General are, after only two months in the position, already very strained and soured. The atmosphere in Merrion Square is expected to continue to worsen over the coming weeks. A Secretary General with extensive senior management experience and well honed inter personal and representational skills is required. The person must be able to commit full time to the post, not be distracted with extensive business interests and other consultancy clients as well as have a proven track record and obvious ability to do the job.

Change within the Irish Red Cross is now in the hands of its membership. This blog encourages all to grasp the opportunity.

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