Saturday, May 8, 2010

Questions must be asked why Minister of Defence, Tony Kileen, continues to delay appointing a Chair to the Irish Red Cross

The Irish Red Cross has been leaderless for nearly five months. It became leaderless when both the Chairman and Secretary General at the time, David Andrews and John Roycroft respectively, suddenly and unexpectedly resigned in December 2009. By any standards this should have sent alarm bells to all Irish Red Cross members and to the Irish Government. Both men are highly regarded with one considered a statesman with an impeccable political career behind him and the other a consummate professional. All those familiar with the Irish Red Cross, members, volunteers, staff, government ministries, the Charity sector in general and the International Red Cross, are now aware that the organisation is convulsed in crisis. Yet no-one seems to be doing anything about it.

Minister Tony Killeen has statutory responsibility for appointing the chairperson of the Irish Red Cross. His predecessor took no interest in the problems of the Irish Red Cross but there was hope in the air after Minister Killeen’s appointment. Minister Killeen’s failure to act decisively and appoint a well qualified and suitably experienced chairperson is only exacerbating the leadership crisis and all the other deep seated problems that now beset the Irish Red Cross. Whomever Minister Killeen eventually appoints must be energetic, capable and be prepared to rectify the rot that has taken hold of the Irish Red Cross at its governance level. Two or three specific board members need to be asked to step down and allow the next generation their chance. Questions concerning the Vice Chairman’s undeclared bank account that kept over €150,000 in it for four years, money that was intended for Tsunami victims, needs to be investigated as a matter of priority. Similarly an investigation into the rumours of maltreatment and harassment of staff (both past and present) needs to be launched before there is an industrial relations meltdown. It is a scandal that all the dedicated and hard working volunteers around the country, committed Central Council and Executive Committee members and staff continue to be served by a failed leadership at the very top. Equally scandalous is the failure by the Government to appoint a strong Chairperson.

One member speaking to this Blog said ‘the appointment of the right calibre person to the Chair is critical. If this person is not prepared to remove the ruling elite and appoint a new Secretary General then the Irish Red Cross will continue on its road to irrelevance and oblivion. We have a deeply demoralised membership and a near traumatised staff. If even a small percentage of the stories are true we are heading for the rocks. It’s all very very sad’

Minister Killeen, this Blog sincerely requests your direct intervention. We humbly ask that you launch an independent investigation into the affairs of the Irish Red Cross and that you forthwith appoint a qualified, energetic, active, determined and capable Chairperson without further delay.

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