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.

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