Friday, April 9, 2010

Irish Red Cross frozen in permanent state of crisis

The Irish Red Cross is in danger of becoming a backward and dated organisation that refuses to change. As a national society it is made up of the most remarkable members, volunteers and staff who dedicate themselves and their spare time to saving lives and helping those less well off, whether in Ireland or overseas. Their contribution to society and humanity is without doubt extraordinary. These people are served, however, by an inept leadership at Executive Committee level and at senior management. The ineptitude amongst certain, and only certain it must be said, Executive Committee members has existed for nearly two decades. It has had a corrosive, damaging and long lasting impact on the welfare of the organisation. Over the years there has been, and even today there continues to be, highly capable and committed people serving on the Executive Committee but they have been silenced and rendered powerless by the very few who comprise the ruling elite. Since the departure of the former Chairman, David Andrews and the previous Secretary General, John Roycroft, the situation has deteriorated rapidly. The sudden exit of these two admirable men before last Christmas allowed the ruling elite, for the first time in many years, achieve a long sought after aim, namely the installation of a Secretary General (albeit Acting) whose sole purpose is to protect them and ensure their continued survival. So long as this secret pact to retain power at all costs remains the primary focus of the ruling elite the Irish Red Cross will never change and will never progress. The fact that the Department of Defence perpetuates the problem by delaying the appointment of a suitably qualified, determined and reforming Chairperson is frustrating and disappointing. The Government must act on this immediately.

This Blog has constantly advocated for change within the Irish Red Cross. As one member recently stated 'We need a change in leadership like we need a good summer...desperately'. The following quote is therefore of relevance and one for Irish Red Cross members to consider 'Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better'.

Irish Red Cross members must not be fearful of change, they must embrace it. We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we decay. Members are the ones responsible for deciding whether the Irish Red Cross changes or not.

Despite the fact that the ruling elite unilaterally decided to cancel the scheduled February Central Council meeting the upcoming one in May/June will go ahead despite the ruling elite's wishes that it did not. It is likely that a number of blunt questions will be asked regarding the undeclared Tipperary Bank account and the Acting Chairman's failure to hand over more than €150,000 of Tsunami money for nearly four years until the undeclared bank account was discovered during an internal audit. If Central Council members carry out their governance duties responsibly they will ask many more questions on a wide range of matters, all of which have been covered extensively in various articles on this blog. Regardless of questions asked though Central Council members will have the legitimate opportunity to effect real and permanent change by voting in a new Vice Chairman as elections for this post (as well as for the full Executive membership) must take place at the May/June Central Council meeting. This Blog would implore the membership to speak with their Central Council representatives as well as engage with the government appointed Central Council representatives and impress upon them the absolute need for change in the make up of the Executive Committee, in particular the replacement of all those on Executive with more than twelve years service (three persons). This Blog believes there are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or accept responsibility for changing them. Central Council members have a moral and legal duty and responsibility to govern and protect the Irish Red Cross. To do this they must not only embrace change but effect change.

The Irish Red Cross is facing one of the most difficult periods in its seventy year history. Not only do we have an internal crisis but we face real and highly professional competition externally. As Charles Darwin stated 'it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change'. As it presently stands the Irish Red Cross is refusing to change and if this is prolonged we will continue to weaken as a national organisation to the point of irrelevance.

Members, and particularly our elected representatives on Central Council and those appointed to Central Council by the Government, need to be courageous. Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And those of us members familiar with the Irish Red Cross know only too well that change has its enemies. People make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. This is the situation within the Irish Red Cross. Progress only occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. The 6,000 Irish Red Cross members and staff crying out for change can only hope that sooner rather than later skillful leaders either emerge, are elected or are appointed.

On a separate matter:

Authors of this Blog noted with collective bemusement the comment posted after the 11th March article. It read as follows 'Perhaps you could find the tallest bridge in Ireland and jump off it, little bit of advice. Try the M50 that crosses over the Liffey'. The comment was posted anonymously and given the intellectual standard of the posting this is not altogether a surprise.

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