Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some positives from Irish Red Cross Central Council meeting but should have been more

The Irish Red Cross held its mid year Central Council meeting on Saturday 12th June 2010. This meeting presented an opportunity to fundamentally reform the organisation. In particular it should have been an occasion that saw the current Vice Chairman tender his resignation for keeping a secret bank account for four years in the name of the Irish Red Cross with over €150,000 collected from the Irish public for the Tsunami in early 2005 and never declaring it to head office until an internal audit discovered it in late 2008 forcing him to admit its existence and return the money to head office. The Vice Chairman has to date got away scot free with this and as a result the reputation of the Irish Red Cross continues to be damaged as he is currently holds the position of Acting Chairman pending the Government's appointment of a replacement for Mr. David Andrews, who resigned in December 2009. It would seem from reports emanating from the Central Council meeting that once again Central Council members feared questioning the Vice Chairman, Tony Lawlor, on this matter. In addition no-one has ever answered the question 'what would have happened to this money and the secret bank account if the internal audit had not discovered it?' It has become ever more difficult for Irish Red Cross volunteers, members, staff and Central Council/Executive officials to explain externally to the Irish Government and the International Red Cross in Geneva why no action has been taken in this regard.

Despite the fact, however, that fundamental reform was not initiated last Saturday progress was nevertheless made in slowly changing the make up of the ruling elite on Executive Committee.

Mr. Des Kavanagh, who has served on the Executive Committee for nearly twenty years decided not to go forward this year. This Blog would like to wish Mr. Kavanagh best wishes for the future and notes his twenty years service to the organisation. Mr Kavanagh was replaced by Ms. Ann Murphy, a government nominee to Central Council. This Blog views Ms. Murphy's election to Executive as extremely significant and very positive. Ms. Murphy, since her appointment to the Central Council twelve months ago, has clearly demonstrated that she is an independent minded woman not afraid to ask difficult questions. Ms. Murphy is known to be a very formidable woman and therefore her presence on Executive for the next twelve months is a very positive step forward for the reform agenda. Ms. Murphy is not the sort of woman to be intimidated by the bullying tactics the ruling elite are now notorious for. Congratulations therefore go to Ms. Murphy and to all those who ensured her election. There is one other new Executive Committee member, Cliona Lehane, but at this stage little is known by the Blog authors and supporters about her but a number of people have indicated that they understand she is close to the Vice Chairman but this may or may not be true.

Otherwise the meeting finalised the various Working Group Chairpersons. Nothing noteworthy here apart from the resurrection of the Overseas Working Group which had ceased to exist after the resignation of its former Chair, Judge Rory Mac Cabe, from Central Council last year. Judge Mac Cabe was a huge supporter of the overseas work of the Irish Red Cross and his presence has been sorely missed. Ms. Sheila Callan is the new Chair of the Overseas Working Group, having previously served in this position for a number of years in the past. This Blog welcomes the restoration of the Overseas Working Group as the Overseas Department has been transformed over the last five years and has and continues to carry out remarkable work all over the world. As one member put it 'the Overseas Department has grown dramatically in the last few years and has earned a very strong reputation with the Irish Government and the International Red Cross in Geneva. Everyone in the Irish Red Cross is very proud of its achievements. Despite this we hear constant rumours that the agenda of the ruling elite on Executive, aided and abetted by the temporary Acting Secretary General, is to shut the Overseas Department down because its seen as troublesome to the power base of those who dominate and control the Irish Red Cross. The Overseas Department therefore needs a strong Overseas Working Group to protect it from this disgraceful agenda and no better woman to fight its corner than Sheila Callan'. This Blog wishes Ms Callan every success in her new role.

In summary then this Blog views the recent Central Council meeting with mixed emotions. Disappointment that unacceptable and questionable standards and behavior continue to be condoned but optimistic that progress, no matter how small, has been made in slowly replacing the ruling elite on Executive. Minister of Defence, Tony Killeen, must now immediately appoint a new Chairperson and thereafter the post of Secretary General must be advertised and a suitable candidate recruited in a transparent and open manner. The current Acting Secretary General, Declan O'Sullivan, is only in the role on a temporary basis. This Blog understands he is to be replaced in late 2010 as per press releases issued by the Irish Red Cross in December 2009 following the resignation of both the organisation's Chairman and Secretary General.

On a separate matter:

This Blog can only hope that the first two comments which followed the previous Blog article were not written by anyone holding a leadership position within the Irish Red Cross as the contents clearly indicate an author with well below average intelligence and a level of pettiness and immaturity unbecoming of a leader. The Blog, on the other hand, hopes that the author of comment three does hold a position of influence in the organisation as clearly the person is articulate, perceptive and capable of expressing a view in an intelligent and appropriate manner.


  1. Mark Tighe5:05 AM


    Do you have an email I can contact you at to ask a few questions? It's for a story about the Irish Red Cross I'm doing tomorrow.

    Mark Tighe
    The Sunday Times

  2. Anonymous7:35 PM

    I just watched the Prime Time programme on the Irish Red Cross and was stunned by Sheila Callan who repeatedly lied about her boss, who earns €160K a year, being on holidays when he was not. The head on her, lying away like Bertie. What a scam! A million of taxpayers money goes to these guys. Watch the show and decide for yourself.