Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ireland's leading current affairs and investigative TV program, Prime Time, reports on Irish Red Cross crisis

Use below web addresses to access the Prime Time TV program (26th August 2010) which reported in detail on the Irish Red Cross crisis:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Truth needed now more than ever at the Irish Red Cross

Since December 2009 this Blog has campaigned for reform of the Irish Red Cross. For many years the organisation has been afflicted with a seemingly never ending series of internal crises, most of which involve governance, resource and funding issues as well as industrial relations problems. For twenty years successive generations of staff, volunteers and some courageous board members have sought and called for change. Such calls were never appreciated. The responses were at best wholly inadequate, at worst threatening and intimidating. Over the years some of the brightest and best have left the organisation, often exasperated and in despair. Despite, however, the endemic problems that beset the Irish Red Cross, the vast majority of volunteers and staff remain passionately committed to the ideals, objectives and principles of the Red Cross, as is this Blog.

Back in December this Blog was set up primarily to facilitate internal debate and discussion, in a confidential and ‘free from fear’ manner. This has largely been achieved and most staff and many volunteers and board members throughout the country were aware of the blog’s existence and regularly read the articles. The posting of comments was virtually non-existent initially but once the first brave soul wrote one more and more began to follow. As any reader of the blog will know many of the comments have been very supportive of the blog, the concerns it raises and its calls for urgent and immediate reform. Like any good and open debating or discussion forum some of the comments held different different views and were very negative towards the blog and a number of people obviously felt it an inappropriate way to address the issues. Some even questioned whether the issues raised even existed at all. These views were and are always welcome. The purpose of the Blog was and is to generate debate within the organisation, something that heretofore was sadly lacking and most definitely not encouraged. The Blog has been successful in this regard.

The Irish Red Cross has been subjected to a torrid time in the national media in recent weeks, as it has in regular waves over the last twenty years. The recent wave is not because of the Blog, there are millions of Blogs out there that the media never cover. The reason for the constant media coverage is because there is a very real and a very serious story to be told, one that must be heard. Once again, as has happened many times over the last two decades, it is being told in the media and Irish Red Cross staff, volunteers, board members, donors, supporters, government departments all need to know what is happening as all these groups have stakes in the health and welfare of the organisation. The story of the Irish Red Cross, as reported in the media, has not been created by this Blog nor has it been created by the imaginative minds of newspaper editors. The Irish Red Cross has created this story itself through its own actions and behaviour. We, as a national Red Cross society, are the sole creators of all our deep rooted problems and sadly we have consistently failed to address and resolve them. Hence, once again, the Irish Red Cross finds itself embroiled in the middle of a severe internal crisis, one that is increasingly being played out in the full glare of the national media. If we do not immediately address the fundamental issues of radical governance reform and the current leadership vacuum the crisis will worsen and the glare of the media will intensify.

While there are no overnight solutions to the problems that beset the Irish Red Cross the following should take place within weeks:

1. The Minister to appoint a highly qualified, skilled, reputable, experienced, determined and energetic chairperson with a very clear mandate to fundamentally reform the Irish Red Cross. The appointment has been outstanding for eight months. This Blog welcomes Minister Killeen’s statement as reported in the Sunday Independent on 22nd August 2010 that an appointment is expected in September. We can only hope its early September.

2. The new Chairperson needs to initiate an investigation into the ‘undeclared’ Tipperary Bank account where €162,000 raised for victims of the Asian Tsunami, sat for over three years until it was discovered during a secret internal audit of Irish Red Cross branch bank accounts. This matter alone has generated much media coverage and in and of itself has greatly damaged the reputation and credibility of the Irish Red Cross. People responsible for what happened must be held accountable for their actions.

3. The new Chairperson should be tasked with overseeing, in an open and transparent manner along with a professional recruiting firm, the recruitment of a permanent Secretary General. The current caretaking scenario needs to conclude forthwith. The Sunday Independent reported on 22nd August that the post of Secretary General would be advertised in September. This is a very welcome development if true.

4. Following the appointment of a new Chairperson and the recruitment of a new Secretary General a special General Assembly of all Irish Red Cross members, volunteers and staff should be convened. The last general assembly took place in 2005. The two scheduled for 2007 and 2009 simply never took place. Such closure within any organisation is very unhealthy and the Irish Red Cross is proof of the damaging consequences. The calling of a special General Assembly of all members under the new Chairperson and Secretary General would allow for a new start, a rebirth and a revitalisation of the whole national society.

5. This Blog has previously called for a full scale independent investigation into the affairs and operations of the Irish Red Cross. Fine Gael, in an official statement issued in February 2010, called for an Independent Investigation. Irish Red Cross staff went on RTE in 1999 and called for an Independent Investigation. Calls for an Independent Investigation have been continual for over a decade now. If the organisation is to move forward, eventually recover and leave its past behind then an open, all encompassing independent investigation must be the starting point.

6. The Irish Red Cross governance reform proposals submitted to the government in early 2010 should be withdrawn and the process started afresh. The current proposals will not reform the organisation. Instead they will maintain the status quo, which is their intention disguised as reform. In any revised governance reform process consultations and discussions should be all inclusive and open, meaning volunteers, staff, central council members, executive committee members and relevant external partners should be engaged and consulted.

Any reform process undertaken by the Irish Red Cross must have at its core the determination to stamp out fear from within the society. Fear has been the greatest and most effective weapon used to dominate and control the Irish Red Cross for the last twenty years. Fear is what stops us being who we are, achieving what we are capable of and forces us, against our will, to tolerate unacceptable behaviour and treatment. Frances Moore Lappe summed it up well ‘I’ve grown certain that the root of all fear is that we’ve been forced to deny who we are’.

I, the blog author, believe Frances Moore Lappe, is correct. No longer will I fear. No longer will I deny who I am.

Noel Wardick
Head of International Department
Irish Red Cross

The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is-Winston Churchill

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday Independent newspaper describes culture at Irish Red Cross as "toxic"

The Sunday Independent (22nd August 2010), Ireland's largest selling Sunday newspaper, carried an article written by its Chief Reporter, Daniel Mc Connell, entitled 'Killeen under fire for delay on Red Cross boss'. The article began with 'Defence Minister Tony Killeen is under fire over his failure to appoint a new boss to the Irish Red Cross (IRC) for more than six months, despite extreme governance difficulties, financial irregularities and a "toxic culture" at the organisation. The IRC has been blighted by controversy for months following reports in this newspaper of deep internal wrangling over governance and low staff morale'.

Regarding the appointment of an Irish Red Cross chairperson the Sunday Independent reports that the Minister's spokeswoman said 'Given the recent difficulties encountered by the Red Cross and the need to move forward...he (the Minister) wants to ensure that he gets the right person for the job. He is currently considering a few candidates and hopes to be in a position to bring a name to Government in the near future, probably in September'.

Of particular significance in the Sunday Independent article was the statement that the post of Secretary General is to advertised next month. It is hoped that this recruitment process will be conducted in an open and transparent manner and that the services of a professional recruiting firm will be utilised. The Sunday Independent stated 'A spokesman for the society, which has been run on an acting basis by Declan O'Sullivan, said that advertisements for a new secretary general would be placed next month'. This is a very welcome development and something which this Blog has called for numerous times over the last eight months.

In addition to criticising the Minister and announcing that the post of secretary general would be advertised shortly the article went on to say 'It has been a torrid year for the IRC. In March this newspaper reported that more than €1.4 million of donations for flood victims in Ireland had not yet been distributed. Then last month, it emerged that €162,000 of donations to victims of the Asian Tsunami had lain idle in a Tipperary account for more than three years because of an "administration error".

The Sunday Independent article concluded with 'According to the opposition, the governance and accounting issues at the Irish Red Cross since 2007 have still not been addressed by the Government. Fine Gael's Jimmy Deenihan told the House that he had repeatedly taken issue with the previous Defence Minister, Willie O'Dea, who told the House in the past that the Government was precluded from getting involved in such issues. Labour's Brian O'Shea said the Government needed to take the organisation by the scruff of the neck'.

The temporary Acting Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, Declan O'Sullivan and the Acting Chairman, Tony (Anthony) Lawlor were not quoted in the article.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sunday Times journalist writes blog article on Irish Red Cross

The Sunday Times journalist, Mark Tighe, who has reported extensively on the serious internal problems at the Irish Red Cross (on 11th July, 25th July, 1st August and 8th August 2010) has written another article on the situation, this time on his own blog site. In particular Mr. Tighe notes the slow and very low key response of the Irish Red Cross to the massive humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. This is in stark contrast to the response by agencies such as Trocaire and Concern.

Mr. Tighe's article can be found by clicking the link to his blog below:

Newspaper Man -

Mr. Tighe is a courageous man as he will be well aware of the Irish Red Cross's propensity for taking legal action against anyone and everyone who criticises them. Already this year the Irish Red Cross has squandered and continues to squander donor funds on barrister and solicitor fees in order to take legal action against Google and UPC in its obsessive attempt to identify the authors of this Blog and thereby silence criticism. In addition the Sunday Times previously reported that the Irish Red Cross hired a forensic IT expert to assist in this regard. Again another example of resource wastefulness if true.

The Blog authors genuinely hope Mr. Tighe is not sued by the Irish Red Cross following his well written and articulate article referred to above. He has raised critically important issues in recent weeks and the Irish Red Cross needs to openly and transparently address and resolve these once and for all. When it does this the Irish Red Cross will find that it is the most effective way to silence critics. In fact it is the only way it will ever silence its critics. Legal action against free speech only serves to create suspicion, fuels media interest and attracts criticism.

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth-Albert Einstein

Identity is such a crucial affair that one shouldn't rush into it-David Quammen

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Morale at crisis ridden Irish Red Cross at all time low

Recent weeks have proven very difficult for the Irish Red Cross. The national media has reported extensively on the organisation's deep rooted problems and very serious incidents such as the 'undeclared' bank account held in Tipperary for over three years which contained much needed funds for victims of the Asian tsunami has caused shame, embarrassment and possibly irreparable damage to the reputation of the Society. The Sunday Times article on 1st August 2010 (page 8) was a damning indictment of what has happened at the Irish Red Cross over the last twenty years.

Readers should be aware that this recent surge in negative media coverage and calls for independent investigations are not a new phenomenon to afflict the organisation. The national media carried similar reports in the mid eighties, throughout the nineties and on a regular basis during the first decade of the twentieth century. 2009 saw detailed reporting in the Village magazine (Nov-Dec 09 edition and Dec 09-Jan 10 edition) which exposed the extent of the crisis as well as articles in the Sunday Independent, Examiner and Phoenix magazine. The Sunday Independent carried another damning article in February 2010. The pattern is clear for all to see and given that these problems have existed and deepened over a twenty year period no one can claim with any degree of credibility that serious issues do not exist or that it is only one or two people who perpetuate these reports. Multiple generations of Irish Red Cross volunteers, board members and staff have fought the ruling elite of the organisation and sought reform and change. It can be stated with absolute certainty that current and future generations of Irish Red Cross volunteers, board members and staff will continue with determination to break, what at times seems rock solid, the obsessive power base of the handful of individuals who comprise the Irish Red Cross ruling elite.

From what this Blog understands it would appear the leadership vacuum continues at the Irish Red Cross head office with the Head of the International Department still suspended and the Acting Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, Declan O'Sullivan, remains overseas on holidays.

It is interesting to witness that while the last eight months have seen the Irish Red Cross enter free fall because of a blind fixation with eliminating those calling for reform the strategy has backfired spectacularly. It can only be assumed that those at the top of the Irish Red Cross have had their reputations, through their own actions, severely damaged both internally and externally and their individual credibility must now be under serious question. While it will unlikely happen immediately the 'whispering in the corridors of the Irish Red Cross' is these people will not retain their current positions long term.

Perseverance and determination amongst reform minded volunteers, staff and board members is required now more than ever before. While every ruling elite appears invincible even through their dying days when they can be at their most dangerous all ruling elites fall, always. Irish Red Cross reformists should, of course, be aware of, but never fear or shirk from, the sting of a dying wasp.

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before-Jacob A. Riis

Perseverance...keeps honour bright: to have done, is to hang quite out of fashion, like a rusty nail in monumental mockery-William Shakespeare

Monday, August 9, 2010

Irish Red Cross crisis again the subject of a Sunday Times report (8th August 2010)

For the best part of five weeks the national media in Ireland has carried articles and reports on the deepening crisis at the Irish Red Cross. The Sunday Times has led the charge with detailed reports carried in its 11th July, 25th July, 1st August and 8th August 2010 editions. All these different newspaper articles have a common thread, a very serious and dangerous malaise within the Irish Red Cross exists and has done so for some time.

This Blog is calling on the Irish Government and the International Red Cross in Geneva to intervene directly and immediately. Given the depths of the crisis and the self destructive road the Irish Red Cross is on urgent external action is required.

The Sunday Times article of the 8th August 2010 leads with the headline ‘Red Cross manager is suspended over email’. The report goes on to say ‘the hotmail email account was used earlier this year to send a message to the IRC’s central council to alert it to the blog’s existence, which may have served to stir up debate over contentious issues at the charity’. The Sunday Times then reminds readers that ‘Last week, this newspaper revealed that Wardick (Head of International Department) was unhappy with Tony Lawlor, the acting chairman, over his role in holding €150,000 in donations for the Asian tsunami in an “undeclared” IRC bank account for three years’. This Blog will also remind readers that the Irish Red Cross was forced to admit to the Sunday Times that the amount of money in the “undeclared” bank account was in fact €162,000 and not €150,000 as they had originally indicated in official press releases. The Sunday Times, in its 1st August edition and quoting from an email leaked by persons unknown but written by Noel Wardick, Head of International Department, to his supervisor, Declan O’Sullivan, Acting Secretary General, Irish Red Cross, stated ‘The Irish Red Cross (IRC) official explanation for the discovery of an undeclared bank account containing €162,000 in donations for victims of the Asian tsunami has been disputed by the head of its international department. Noel Wardick said claims that the money had now been spent were inaccurate and he raised questions about whether the IRC’s Tipperary branch had told head office of the accounts existence.... in a letter sent last week to Declan OSullivan, the IRC’s acting secretary general, Wardick said:”I want to state categorically and clearly that this money has NOT yet been spent”. This Blog further reminds readers that the Irish Red Cross, under the name of the acting Chairman, reportedly issued an official statement to the media claiming the money was spent. This statement was quoted in the Tipperary Nationalist newspaper on the 29th July 2010 in a front page story. In addition no-one in the Irish Red Cross has yet explained why they used a figure of €150,000 when they knew it was inaccurate. The correct figure is €162,000 and when questioned by the Sunday Times the Irish Red Cross was forced to admit this.

The August 8th Sunday Times article goes on to say ‘The IRC employed a forensic IT specialist to track the IP addresses, or location, of both an anonymous blog which criticised the charity’s board...’. The Irish Red Cross is very obviously spending a massive amount of its donor money trying to silence internal and external critics. The Irish Red Cross is paying thousands of Euros to solicitors and barristers in order to pursue its legal case against UPC and Google International. The Google case will most likely drag on for years and as the Sunday Times reported on 8th August ‘A spokeswoman for Google said that the search engine was “committed to its users’ privacy”. Irish Red Cross can therefore expect a lengthy, long drawn out, damaging and highly costly court case. As well as hiring a forensic IT specialist this Blog is aware that the Irish Red Cross is also spending large sums of money on a media management consultant who is working overtime trying, not very successfully it must be said, to manage all the recent negative media coverage, something which is wholly self inflicted as a result of the legal case against Google. Prior to the decision to take legal action against one of the world’s best known companies and one that is a generous donor to the Red Cross Movement only a handful of people knew about or read the Blog. It would therefore appear the Irish Red Cross leadership has so far scored a spectacular own goal in trying to shut down freedom of speech within the organisation.

The Irish Red Cross has in recent weeks been widely questioned for spending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Euros on barristers, solicitors, IT forensic experts and media management consultants all in a frenzied and obsessive attempt to silence criticism which has been expressed by many different people, members, volunteers, board members, politicians and staff over a twenty year period. People and businesses who donate to the Irish Red Cross do so on the understanding that the money will be spent on humanitarian activities at home and abroad. Can the Irish Red Cross truly claim this to be the case at the moment? This Blog is certain that each and every donor to the Irish Red Cross is an advocate of free speech, the right to criticise and the freedom to look for reform. Spending vast sums of donor money to prevent free speech, silence criticism and thwart reform is plain and simply wrong. It is also, in the view of the Blog authors, in breach of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross Movement.

This Blog has previously reported in past articles that it was of the view that the Overseas Department of the Irish Red Cross was in grave danger of being shut down or at the very least seriously downgraded because it was viewed as a threat to the ruling elite and their hired help. Given recent events it would appear our worst fears are being realised. The Head of the International Department has been suspended according to the Sunday Times for ...the sending of an anonymous the IRC’s central council to alert it to the blog’s existence..’. The Head of the International Department has been suspended at a time when a massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Pakistan with nearly 2,000 deaths and over 12 million people affected by the devastating floods. This Blog has heard Concern and Trocaire representatives on the radio and TV every day since the floods happened. At no time have we heard the Irish Red Cross on the nation’s airwaves informing the public or describing the work of the Red Cross on the ground. The silence is deafening as well as damning.

In addition to the now obvious absence of the head of the international department this Blog is aware that the Acting Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, Declan O’Sullivan, is currently out of the country on holidays, at a time when the organisation is going through a very serious meltdown. This absence at such a critical time must be of concern to Irish Red Cross members.

Jennifer Bulbulia, quoted in the Sunday Times on 1st August 2010, summed it up well “Significant decisions that may well shape the direction and affect the reputation of the Irish Red Cross are being made by people who are in acting positions of chairperson and secretary-general, caretakers as it were”.

In the midst of such a detrimental and deteriorating crisis and in the absence of the suspended Head of International and the holidaying Acting Secretary General, Declan O’Sullivan, the question must therefore be asked ‘who is actually in charge at the Irish Red Cross? Is anyone in fact in charge?

A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It’s a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity-Jimmy Carter, US President 1977-81

If you have agencies and nobody’s watching, you’re going to have mismanagement and corruption-Author unknown

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Times (1st August 2010) carries two detailed reports on Irish Red Cross crisis

The 1st August 2010 Sunday Times edition carried two separate articles on the dramatically deteriorating situation within the Irish Red Cross.

The first report appears on the front page and the second, and much bigger, article appears on page 8. The first report leads with the headline ‘Red Cross hit by new dispute’ and the report begins with ‘The Irish Red Cross (IRC) official explanation for the discovery of an undeclared bank account containing €162,000 in donations for victims of the Asian tsunami has been disputed by the head of its international department’. It would appear from reading the report that the Sunday Times has received a letter leaked to it which was sent last week by the head of the international department, Noel Wardick, to the Acting Secretary General, Declan O’ Sullivan, where he says according to the Sunday Times ‘I want to state categorically and clearly that this money has NOT been spent’. The Sunday Times does not reveal who gave them Mr. Wardick’s letter or how it came into their possession. The claim that the money was not spent is in connection with previous claims by Tony Lawlor, Acting Chairman of the Irish Red Cross, that the tsunami money that sat in a Tipperary account for nearly four years had been fully spent on tsunami projects. The Sunday Times goes on ‘Noel Wardick said claims that the money had now been spent were inaccurate and he has raised questions about whether the IRC’s Tipperary branch had told head office of the account’s existence’. Mr Lawlor was reported in the Tipperary Nationalist newspaper of 29th July of claiming that the Tipperary branch had informed head office of the monies existence prior to its discovery by an internal audit in 2008. The Sunday Times, reportedly quoting from Mr. Wardick’s letter, writes ‘Wardick said the Tipperary money “may not be spent until the second half of 2011 so it is important that the organisation does not make statements that do not reflect this reality”. Regarding whether the Tipperary branch ever informed head office the Sunday Times says ‘He (Wardick) also queried whether the Tipperary branch had informed the IRC’s head office of the account’s existence as claimed last week. “If this was the case then the bank account would have surely appeared in the organisation’s accounts as well as the annual Tipperary branch account submissions to Dublin in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and it would have been clear that a large balance existed in a Tipperary Red Cross bank account”.

Interestingly the figure involved in the undeclared Tipperary bank account would appear to have increased from the previously reported €150,000 to €162,000. The paper noted ‘in a statement the IRC confirmed the total in the Tipperary account was €162,000’. If this is correct then this Blog would like to ask Mr. Tony Lawlor and Mr. Declan O’Sullivan, Acting Secretary General, why previous officially sanctioned press releases and statements have referred to €150,000. Why are they now issuing statements that the figure has increased by €12,000. Is this down to another one of their ‘administrative errors’? Can we expect more bad news and an even higher figure or new ‘undeclared’ bank accounts in coming days?

This whole episode is shameful and humiliating for all those involved with the Irish Red Cross, volunteers, members and staff alike. A full scale independent investigation is urgently required. Given the fact the IRC has confirmed the figure involved is now €162,000 and not €150,000 as first stated by the Irish Red Cross in official statements perhaps the GardaĆ­ need to be asked to take a look at the matter.

The second report carried by the Sunday Times in its 1st August 2010 edition appears on page 8 where the full page is given over to the crisis at the Irish Red Cross. The article is headed by a very dramatic picture of a war zone with a blown up photo of a military medic with Red Cross insignia on his arm and helmet running across a scene of explosions and battle. The large bold print headline reads ‘IN THE WARS-The Irish Red Cross is under attack from several directions. Can its reputation survive’. The caption under the photo reads ‘Ireland’s Red Cross society, with its 6,500 volunteers, faces a barrage of fire from critics’.

This Blog encourages all our readers to read both Sunday Times articles. The second one is detailed, comprehensive and outlines concisely the level and depth of the crisis within the Irish Red Cross. Limited examples of sections from this article are contained below in bold:

‘The undeclared account was discovered by the charity’s head office only in late 2008 during an internal audit. The emergence of the money after so many years alarmed some board members and staff, who believed it was an unacceptable breach of donor’s trust. That the account was based in its Tipperary branch, the home of Tony Lawlor, then the IRC board’s vice chairman, made the revelation more startling’.

‘Lawlor, a volunteer with more than 20 years service on the board is a powerful figure in the charity, but he is a controversial one’.

‘One of those who clashed with Lawlor was Jenny Bulbulia, a lawyer and government appointed board member. Bulbulia resigned in protest last year at what she believed was an absence of financial transparency in how the board was spending money. ‘A board that is unwilling or unable to accept criticism, let alone respond to it, is not a functioning board’ she wrote in a letter to the Minister for Defence’.

Staff believed that these two high profile resignations (former Chairman, David Andrews and former Secretary General, John Roycroft) were another sign of what insiders refer to as a hostile work atmsophere’.

‘After Andrew’s departure, Lawlor was appointed acting Chairman. ‘The buffer that Andrews provided between the staff and Lawlor is gone’ said one IRC source. ‘Its a very tense workplace now’.

In relation to the High Court case the Irish Red Cross is taking against Google the Sunday Times states about this Blog the following ‘ anonymous internet poster who is using a blog to make informed and critical comments about the charity’. It goes on to say ‘But given the evidence of internal strife and irregularities that have already damaged public confidence in the charity, is it possible for the IRC to carry on without corrective surgery?’.

‘Last week’s story in the Sunday Times about €150,000 that lay unused in a Red Cross bank account came as no surprise to Gerard Moyne, a former board member of the IRC. ‘In the early 1990s I was asking questions about money raised for the Armenian earthquake that was still sitting in our accounts years after it should have been spent’ said Moyne. ‘Staff felt that volunteer board members were mistreating them’.

‘The Society had a series of high-profile resignations amid allegations of bullying throughout the 1990s. This period of unrest culminated with nine IRC staff issuing a joint statement to RTE (national TV broadcaster), calling for an independent inquiry into the management of the society’.

“This is a pattern that repeats itself over and over and staff are nervous of standing up for themselves”. In recent years, staff complained to central council and Andrews about a culture of intimidation and bullying “which has its roots in the executive council”.

‘In the past two years €585,000 was spent on external consultants. Declan O’ Sullivan, who is now the Acting secretary general was paid €160,000 a year in 2008 and 2009 for financial management services. He is being paid a similar sum in his current role’. This Blog views such wanton waste of very scarce resources as a scandal and has written numerous articles on this issue. It is to be borne in mind that the Irish Red Cross ran a financial deficit in 2008 and 2009 and consultants fees contributed significantly to the loss in both years.

Said an IRC source “Staff feel stressed out by the attitude and behaviour of senior board members. Internationally, our reputation is in tatters with other Red Cross societies. Not every former staff member will go to court or the newspapers when they leave, but there are staff who have left the building crying hysterically”.

‘The IRC’s case against Google has drawn attention from around the world, not least from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It has issued to members a briefing note which warns that the IRC’s legal action seeking disclosure against Google may lead to awkward questions being asked of other societies. Member organisations have been advised to be cautious about commenting on the Irish court case because Google is a key corporate partner and donor.’

‘Lawlor (Acting Chairman) said he eagerly awaited the appointment of a new chairman. It was “hard to say” if he would be putting himself forward to work on a new board, he said “I am open to standing back”. This Blog would go a step forward and urges Mr. Lawlor to immediately step down. Other members of the IRC board must pursue Mr. Lawlor’s statement and see how genuine he really is or is his position simply ‘media management’. Readers should know the Irish Red Cross media consultant is doing a roaring trade because of this self inflicted crisis. As with other Irish Red Cross consultancy and legal fees its media consultant expenses are soaring. On the basis that the media management has thus far failed miserably one has to seriously question throwing good money after bad.

‘Staff are worried that the interim arrangements (of Acting Chairperson and Acting Secretary General) may cause lasting damage’.

‘Last year, the IRC recorded a deficit of more than €250,000. Despite Lawlor’s public assurances about the importance of the society’s international department, the Sunday Times has learnt that it is due to undergo restructuring that may mean redundancies’

‘Bulbulia (the board member who resigned in 2008 over her concerns around financial irregularities) is insistent that immediate intervention is needed to save what is, for many, a beloved organisation. “Sadly the society appears to be in some sort of free-fall at the moment” she said. “Significant decisions that may well shape the direction and affect the reputation of the Irish Red Cross are being made by people who are in acting positions of chairperson and secretary general-care takers as it were. I would like to see the minister for defence appoint a new chairperson to get things back on track” stated Bulbulia.

This Blog would like to thank Mark Tighe, the Sunday Times journalist who very quickly it seems got a handle on the extent of the problems within the Irish Red Cross and reported accordingly. He has done a great service in highlighting the problems and given a glimmer of hope to those who love and dedicate their lives to the Irish Red Cross that change may be forced on the organisation. It certainly will not come from within which is why the current regime has prospered and survived so long. This Blog initially hoped it's articles would act as an internal catalyst for change and reform but unfortunately that did not happen as the ruling elite control and dominate every single aspect of the organisation.

This Blog calls on Tony (Anthony) Lawlor, Acting Chairman and Declan O’ Sullivan, Acting Secretary General, to accept that they are short term temporary caretakers and in such roles one needs to behave in a proper fashion. Taking fundamental and significant decisions that will impact on the well being and reputation of the Irish Red Cross for years to come must be prevented from happening.

It is the view of the Blog authors that an immediate emergency general assembly of all members and staff needs to be convened. The last one took place in 2005 and despite the fact that one should have occurred in 2007 and 2009 neither took place (in a blatant attempt to quell disquiet and reform). This Blog would recommend the emergency general assembly be chaired by a neutral intermediary such as the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) or the International Committee of the Red Cross. Irish Red Cross members and staff need to assert their authority and demand change. Failure to do so will consign the Irish Red Cross to the scrapheap where it is unfortunately heading very rapidly.

I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Fear is choosing the safe course: most of us feel we have 'rational' reasons to avoid taking risks. The brave one is not the one without fear, but the one who does what he must despite being afraid. To succeed you must be willing to risk total failure, you must learn this. Then you will succeed-George Bernard Shaw