Saturday, February 20, 2010

Independent Investigation into Irish Red Cross Urgently Required

Following extensive discussions and consultations with volunteers, Central Council members and certain Executive Committee members this blog is firmly of the view that a full scale comprehensive independent investigation into the governance and management of the Irish Red Cross is urgently required. The misgovernance, cronyism and mismanagement has gone on for twenty years. The organisation is at its lowest ebb in its history. Both governance and management must be held to account for their actions and inaction's.

This blog is therefore calling on the Irish Government, in particular the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs, to immediately establish a small expert team of organisational investigators, specialising in key areas such as Governance, Finance (a forensic auditor), Management and Industrial Relations. This blog is of the view that while the Department of Defence has not caused the problems within the Irish Red Cross it has contributed substantially to them by continually re-appointing certain Central Council members who are clearly unqualified and unsuitable to hold such office. The Department of Defence has insisted on washing its hands of all responsibility for the Irish Red Cross and its endemic problems despite the fact that it gives the Irish Red Cross nearly €1 million per annum and appoints one third of its Central Council. As such any independent investigation needs to include the Department of Foreign Affairs as all confidence in the Department of Defence's interest in reforming the Irish Red Cross vanished many years ago.

The details of this blog's recommendations for an independent investigation into the Irish Red Cross are as follows:

1. A panel immediately convene to recruit an Independent Investigation Team (IIT). This panel should include one senior official from the Department of Foreign Affairs, one senior official from the Department of Defence, one senior official from SIPTU, one senior official from IMPACT and one senior recruitment specialist.

2. This panel should then set about recruiting the IIT. The IIT should comprise a Corporate/Organisational Governance Specialist, a Forensic Financial Auditor, a Management Specialist and an Industrial Relations Expert.

3. Once recruited the IIT should commence an extensive and exhaustive investigation into all aspects of the Irish Red Cross including confidential individual meetings with Central Council Members, Executive Committee Members, Volunteers, Branch Secretaries, all current staff, former staff and ex Central Council and Executive Committee members. Relevant senior officials of the IFRC and ICRC in Geneva should also be widely consulted and interviewed. The IIT should be given three full months for interviews, research, analysis, investigation and consultation and one full month to draft the report and its recommendations.

4. The Board and management of the Irish Red Cross be formally instructed by the Irish Government to fully cooperate with the IIT and to make all documents and records available as requested.

5. A formal report with recommendations from the IIT be submitted to the Panel as per 1 above.

6. A full general assembly of the Irish Red Cross membership be convened in order that the Panel and IIT present the report and its findings. It is important to bring to readers attention the last time the Irish Red Cross held a general assembly of all its members was in October 2005. The Irish Red Cross is required to hold a general assembly every two years and it is therefore indicative of a deep malaise that it is nearly five years since the last one was held with no known plans to hold another one. The General Assembly that is convened to discuss the IIT report should also include all staff as equal participants.

The next few paragraphs are designed to give readers a flavour of life within the Irish Red Cross over recent years.

It is to be recalled that in November 1999 Irish Red Cross staff went on RTE Television and called for an independent investigation into the running of the Society. This brave and courageous act was widely covered on RTE news and in the media at the time. It also triggered a series of parliamentary questions supporting the call. No investigation took place and promised reform failed to materialise. All the problems that existed in 1999 and that led to committed and loyal staff calling for an independent investigation live on RTE News still remain today, eleven years later. The reason is simple. The Board members responsible for creating the problems in 1999 still serve on the Board in 2010. If they remain in power the problems will exist in 2020. The RTE News report from November 23rd 1999 can be viewed at:

http://www.rte.ie/news/1999/1123/redcross.html

It is interesting that the 1999 RTE News report states 'in the last two years, the organisation has lost almost half of its senior staff, including its Secretary General, the public relations officer, a youth director and a fund raiser and a clerical officer. In October of this year (1999) the sacking of the financial controller led to calls for his reinstatement from the majority of staff. A case is now being taken against the charity for unfair dismissal. Staff also claim that deep divisions have emerged between the permanent staff and the executive over the running of the organisation'.

Eleven years later and nothing has changed apart from maybe getting much worse. Between December 2009 and January 2010 the Irish Red Cross saw its Chairman and Secretary General resign suddenly and unexpectedly. In addition the Head of Communications, Head of Services and Training and the Community Services Manager were all made redundant and the Head of Fundraising departed after only twelve months in the post due to plain and simple disillusionment. In 2008 the previous Head of Fundraising departed due to plain and simple disillusionment. In 2005 the then Head of Fundraising departed due to plain and simple disillusionment. Three Head's of Fundraising departing within four years must be a sign in itself of something seriously wrong within the Irish Red Cross. In 2007 the then Secretary General was forced to resign and treated disgracefully by certain members of the Executive, all of whom continue to serve on the Board. There is now an Acting Secretary General in place and recruitment for his replacement is scheduled to commence later this year. One can only imagine the damage to the organisation's reputation as a result of such turmoil at the top. Also in 2007 the former Regional and Commercial Manager was fired for no good reason other than upsetting a senior Executive Committee member. Since then there has been two different people in the post. According to well placed Executive Committee members the Finance Department has a very high turnover of staff with one member saying 'its impossible to keep track with the changing names and faces and I never quite know who is in charge of that Department. It cant be a good sign that those in authority seem incapable of stabilising the situation'. Not a whole lot is known by members this blog talked to about the situation on staffing in the Overseas Department with one member noting 'we never actually see, hear or interact with them but we presume they are there but then again given the human resource chaos in Merrion Square who actually knows..'

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:46 PM

    Could you provide more details on how Training and Services Manager, Community services manager left the organsiation recently?

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  2. Anonymous2:10 PM

    It deeply saddens me to read these posts. For someone who says they have the best interests of the irish red cross at heart you seem to be trying to rip it apart from the inside out.

    It is easy to lay in the long grass and snipe at voluntary members whom have served for many years with the best interest of the organisation at heart. People who stand for election at Branch Area and National level who are democratically elected to central council by the members to act on behalf of the members. An executive who are elected by central council by ballot and report to council.



    Some of the people you see fit to anonymously attack hold down day jobs as do the majority of members who are lucky enough to have employment in these current economic times. They also work tirelessly to promote the red irish cross at both an international national and local level going to meetings from one end of the country to another instructing on courses and covering first aid duties the same as the vast majority of the thousands of members around the country giving of there time for no self reward. You say that you have been in contact with council executive and volunteer members. I do not believe the correct forum to air grievances is in anonymous blogs and leaks to the media.



    If as you say you have spoken to members of executive and council why would they not stand up in council and ask the questions you wish answered? Have you been elected by a branch or an area? Are you a member at all? If so why not look for a nomination to branch area and council and ask the questions yourself in the proper forum or ask your local area rep to raise these matters at council. Also could you explain how you got the email addresses of volunteers to spread your anonymous blog ?

    ReplyDelete
  3. How you got the email addresses of volunteers to spread your anonymous blog ?

    ReplyDelete