Monday, March 15, 2010

High consultancy costs at Irish Red Cross cause major concern

The Vice Chairman of the Irish Red Cross stated on the Pat Kenny radio show (on 2nd March 2010) that the Irish Red Cross was not squandering its resources on consultancy fees, despite constant reports to the contrary in numerous national media publications and questions raised on the matter by Fine Gael and Labour in Dail Eireann. This Blog knows for a fact that the Irish Red Cross has and is squandering valuable resources on consultancy fees. This Blog is fully confident that any independent analysis of consultancy fees paid by the Irish Red Cross over the last 5 or even the last ten years would cause an absolute outrage.

This Blog has reported in detail the many deep rooted problems that afflict the Irish Red Cross. It is because of these problems and the never ending misgovernance and mismanagement that consultants are brought in. They charge their exorbitant fees, write their reports and the Executive Committee of the Irish Red Cross invariably consign the recommendations to the dust bin never to be discussed or seen again. We have written about consultancy fees in a number of articles but below is a summary of the current consultancy situation at the Irish Red Cross:

1. A consultant specialising in Industrial Relations and Human Resources has worked for the organisation for over two years. Given the worsening industrial relations climate at the Irish Red Cross one assumes this consultant is kept very busy. No information could be ascertained as to his name or company.

2. A consultant specialising in Communications/PR has worked for the organisation for many years. His services are required because of a lack of capacity in communications and PR within the head office staff. Given the seemingly never ending negative publicity in the media and Dail Eireann one has to ask exactly what PR he is doing and what are the benefits of his services.

3. A consultant specialising in web design has worked on the organisation's website for a number of years. His services are also required because of a lack of staffing capacity at head office.

4. This Blog previously reported that four of the senior staff who left the organisation in January 2010 (three made redundant and one left voluntarily) have all been hired back on various consultancy contracts. They are all now charging consultancy rates which this Blog understands are substantially in excess of their daily salary rates when they were employed.

5. Because of the endemic problems within the Irish Red Cross it is understood the fees paid to the firm of solicitors that represent the Irish Red Cross are enormous every year.

It can be seen from above that despite the Vice Chairman's claims that the Irish Red Cross is not wasting its money on consultancy fees the reality would appear to indicate otherwise. Seven different consultants and a firm of solicitors seems ludicrous for a voluntary not-for-profit organisation such as the Irish Red Cross. Large corporates would have difficulty competing with the Irish Red Cross on this front. This Blog has been informed by one member that this is not a recent phenomenon, stating 'we have spent hundreds of thousands of Euros on consultancy fees over the years. In particular the amount spent over the last two and a half years is impossible to justify but still the money gets spent and the cheques get signed'.

Perhaps the Vice Chairman and the Acting Secretary General (who has been a major beneficiary of the Irish Red Cross' willingness to pay vast sums to consultants) could address this issue in detail at the next Central Council meeting?

Interestingly though it is to be recalled that a Central Council meeting was agreed to take place in February but we understand no such meeting took place and no date has been set for the meeting. This is a very worrying development as this Blog understands a number of awkward questions were asked of Executive members at the last Central Council meeting in November 2009. It would appear certain Executive members are refusing to follow the clear direction from the last Central Council meeting which agreed to hold another one in February 2010. As one member put it 'the ruling elite on the Executive are not used to being questioned and they realise the tide is turning and they think they can stop it by minimising interaction with members. But we all know no one cant stop the tide turning and for all our sakes lets hope its a high tide'.

On a separate matter:

During his interview on the Pat Kenny radio show the Vice Chairman responded to a question about the Irish Red Cross deficit by comparing the Irish Red Cross to AIB, who that day had announced a huge deficit. His basic argument was along the lines 'sure everyone has a deficit'. This Blog finds it telling that the Vice Chairman would compare the Irish Red Cross to the AIB, an organisation now synonymous with outright incompetence, greed, near bankruptcy, cronyism, misgovernance and mismanagement. Perhaps our Vice Chairman chose his comparison well.

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