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 email.....to 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

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:36 AM

    Dear sir/ma'am

    I have just read your blogs, and quite frankly you are a coward. If you truely belive that what your saying is right, stand up and own up and tell the irish red cross who you are. Your a disgrace. Your only posting anonymously because you know that what your saying is wrong. Man up and face up to the consequences of your own words. - kevin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous3:54 AM

    Sir, i would call the counter on your comment. If the IRCS are above board then why don't they come to the forefront and prove the blogger wrong instead of hiding behind lawyers and solicitors?. What sort of an organization justifies trying to sue a company with Public donated monies. The IRCS membership should be taking this issue into their own hands by calling an EGM. This should be done as a matter of priority, the future of the Organization is being put at risk by the people responsible for managing the organization on behalf of its members .

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous5:55 AM

    Dear last commenter,

    I am a volunteer and I DO agree with the first commenter. I also very much agree with the way my organisation are dealing with this issue. We have heard so much lately about the freedom of speech....... Where does the misuse of incorrect information come into play. People like to stir trouble when they don't get their own way, this is my interputation of this blog and recent press reports.

    I will proudly defend the actions of my organisation and my national officers to the general public in my area, I know the truth will over come all.

    I do not hold any national, area of branch title but can safely and honestly say the Irish Red Cross will defend it's title and emblem. I wish these people could have the same respect.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous3:44 AM

    http://www.politics.ie/justice/134609-high-court-orders-upc-disclose-blogger-identity.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous3:51 AM

    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/whos_the_bad_guy/

    Lots of discussion about Irish Red Cross crisis out there. Vast majority of people and comments expressing serious concern with Irish Red Cross and its witch hunt approach to the Blog as well as agreeing that something is seriously wrong at the organisation

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous3:59 AM

    Dont forget to follow Bock the Robber Blog about the Irish Red Cross. See his link on this site under the comments section of article dated Tuesday, July 27th 2010. His article now has 34 comments about Irish Red Cross mess!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous2:44 AM

    Dear Blogger,

    Well done on your efforts in raising such issues that seem to be brushed under the carpet and have been for many years. It is long over due that a complete "clear out" of the management structure take place and put some new members into the positions who will do the job in the interest of its members and members of the public. Let us remind those responsible of the principles of the organisation. This type of management is not just happening in HQ it is all the way down to Unit levels, all we need do is look at the current mess in the Galway Area where it is being split into two different regions to suit the "higher Arkey" Keep up the good work

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous6:59 AM

    Kevin I hope you are ashamed of what you wrote. Did you ever spare a thought for what might have happened the Blogger, had he revealed himself, before it was done so in full view of the Media? This may have all been 'swept under the rug' and Noel would have been persecuted heavily by those who work above him.

    Noel for SG!!!

    ReplyDelete