Sunday, October 3, 2010

Irish Red Cross to continue its legal action against Google Inc in order to obtain the identities of everyone who has posted comments on Blog

The Irish Red Cross is to continue its legal action against Google Inc in order to obtain the identities of everyone who has posted comments on Blog, according to the Sunday Times newspaper (3rd October 2010).

The Sunday Times journalist, Mark Tighe, has reported in its 3rd October 2010 edition that ‘the IRC is continuing to pursue Google through its lawyers. The charity believes many of the anonymous comments on the blog come from within the IRC and it has asked Google to provide details of all those who left remarks’.


Mark Tighe does not comment, however, on the legal bill being incurred by the Irish Red Cross by continuing to sue one of the world’s best known companies and one which is a major donor to and supporter of the Red Cross Movement globally. Presently there are 170 comments posted on the Blog. It is not known how many individuals are involved in writing the 170 comments or from which four corners of the world they may emanate from.

The Sunday Times article also states ‘Google would not comment on the action but has previously said it would “be very slow to identify any of our users unless compelled to do so”. Given Google’s global record on such matters and its commitment to freedom of speech and an individual’s right to express an opinion the Irish Red Cross Vs Google Inc (headquarters in California) could become a very long and protracted case, one that will no doubt consume vast sums of Irish Red Cross donor money as well as the time and energy of the new Chairman, David J. O’ Callaghan and the permanent Secretary General, whenever the Irish Red Cross decides to appoint one.

One would seriously have to question whether trying to identify the names of the authors of 170 comments (to date) on the Blog is really the best use of Irish Red Cross’s very limited financial resources, especially when the author of the Blog has already identified himself. The question then begs itself of course as to what the Irish Red Cross intends to do if they ever get the names of the authors of the comments. Will they then issue legal proceedings against all these people, who one presumes are perfectly entitled in any democratic free society to post comments on a blog? How many different individuals and companies does the Irish Red Cross intend to sue in the coming weeks and months, Google, UPC, numerous posters of comments, the blog author, anybody else who may in time question the organisation's behaviour and actions? This could amount to multiple legal actions lasting years and costing the Irish Red Cross many hundreds of thousands of Euros if not much more. As far as this blog is aware criticism and calls for reform are not yet illegal in Ireland. Would time and energy not be better spent on addressing the multitude of deep and serious problems that afflict the organisation and that have been covered extensively in Irish media and on national television (RTE Prime Time, 26th August 2010)?

In addition to the above there is the very real potential of serious and lasting damage to the global Red Cross Movement’s relationship with Google (an important partner and donor including to the Irish Red Cross). It will be interesting to see if the IFRC and ICRC take a stronger position with the Irish Red Cross on this than heretofore as there is much to lose.

The author of this blog has faith in Google’s determination (and responsibility one might add) to protect free speech, if in the highly unlikely event they release details of those who posted comments the author looks forward to finding out the names of the individuals who suggested on numerous occasions that he ‘crawl back under the rock you came from’ and the person who suggested he kill himself ‘by jumping off a bridge onto the M50’!!

On a more serious note though this blog would like to commend all those who have posted comments and who continue to post comments on the Blog. Your determination and willingness to do so in the face of legal threats is highly admirable. Courage and resilience is the only way the Irish Red Cross will ever be reformed and rescued. Fear is the greatest weapon that has been used for twenty years against Irish Red Cross reformists, whether they be volunteers, board members or staff. It is therefore up to us and only us to decide if we allow the weapon of fear be successful or not.

Tighe concluded his Sunday Times article by revisiting the unresolved issue of the undeclared Tipperary bank account when he wrote ‘The blog had called for government intervention to address problems at the charity. Among issues highlighted on the website was an undeclared Tipperary bank account containing €162,000 in donations for the victims of the 2004 Asian Tsunami. The account, in Lawlor’s (Tony Lawlor, Vice Chairman, Irish Red Cross) branch, was discovered in late 2008’.

The full Sunday Times article (3rd October 2010) by Mark Tighe is transcribed below:

Starts..

Red Cross manager faces sack

The Irish Red Cross manager who revealed himself to be the author of an anonymous blog that criticised the charity has been found guilty of gross misconduct by an internal disciplinary committee.

Noel Wardick, the IRC’s head of the international department, will probably be dismissed unless he can overturn the decision on appeal.

Wardick revealed he had written the blog after IRC took Google, the blog’s host, and UPC, the internet service provider, to the High Court in an attempt to unmask the author’s identity.

After an order for discovery was granted against UPC, it agreed to pass on Wardick’s details. This information identified him as the likely author of an anonymous email sent to alert the IRC’s members to the blog. He then revealed he was also the author of the blog.

Despite Wardick’s admission, the IRC is continuing to pursue Google through its lawyers. The charity believes many of the anonymous comments on the blog come from within the IRC and it has asked Google to provide details of all those who left remarks.

A spokesman for the charity said legal action was taken because the blog “posted internal confidential material about the IRC” which was “wilfully distorted and misconstrued”. He said the charity was taking “all appropriate legal action to obtain formal proof of the identity or identities of posters to the blog”.

Google would not comment on the action but has previously said it would “be very slow to identify any of our users unless compelled to do so”.

In an interview with the Sunday Times earlier this year, Tony Lawlor, then the acting chairman of the IRC, said he believed the blog had carried defamatory material and the charity would pursue the author for the legal costs of the case against UPC and Google.

The blog had called for government intervention to address problems at the charity. Among issues highlighted on the website was an undeclared Tipperary bank account containing €162,000 in donations for the victims of the 2004 Asian Tsunami. The account, in Lawlor’s branch, was discovered in late 2008. Lawlor said an “administrative error” was to blame for the money not being passed on.

On September 3, the IRC announced it would appoint “an independent firm of accountants” to investigate accusations against the Tipperary branch. It has refused to name the accountants. “The review is ongoing and no further details are available”, said its spokesman. Ends

25 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:31 PM

    I am a former staff member who has left several comments on the blog, none of which contained any statement I would be ashamed to make in public. It was fear of the consequences of speaking out that caused me to post anonymously, particularly as I was a regular witness to and a victim of the intimidation and harassment that took place as those with vested interests sought to silence the blog rather than address it.
    I will happily identify each of my comments if those who left comments directly threatening staff and volunteers and imploring the blogger to throw themselves off a bridge would care to identify theirs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous1:19 AM

    A spokesman for the charity said legal action was taken because the blog “posted internal confidential material about the IRC” which was “wilfully distorted and misconstrued”. Was this spokesman the same person who wrote in correspondence to the press that the accusation that the Society retained monies for long periods of times was "Fabrication and Lies ", Wow.

    Lies and more damn lies that is until the evidence was presented then the same spokesman started chewing on his own tongue !

    I would be very interested to know who the Red Cross person is that would suggest that anyone should kill themselves obviously the recent letter from Mr O Sullivan on the Red Cross website that principles are alive and well is not reaching the membership ! Also to what stone were they referring to and who should be the first to crawl under that stone. It is obvious to most people that the Management of Red Cross have kept the membership firmly covered by stones for decades !

    Well done Noel, I have no doubt that the Irish Red Cross will get their ass firmly kicked by Google and that Google will have enough evidence to support your position that this barrel has more than one rotten apple and that every single comment on this blog is within the constitutional rights given to us by our forefathers!

    How dare they try to silence us ! I have no fear whatsoever of the truth !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous7:18 PM

    There are options in your blog software that allow you NOT to record the IP details of any poster who makes a comment, you can also selectively remove ip details from posts as you wish.
    Alternatively, obfuscate the times and dates the comments are made, so even if Google gives in to the legal threats, exact times and dates cannot be used to further request personal details from Internet service providers.
    Either way though, this is typical bully boy tactics being used by the IRC to scare and threaten people so they don't post. Are they also going to sue boards.ie now too ?

    ReplyDelete
  4. If this is the type of nonsense that the Irish Red Cross spends donor's money on, they will be waiting a long time for any donations from me.

    I donate pretty much everytime the Red Cross do an emergency appeal. The Red Cross has been my charity of choice, until now.

    Taking legal action to try and reveal the identities of those who seem to have fairly criticised the IRC is a low blow. Aside from the absolute wrongness of that legal action, surely there are better things to spend money on?

    We are all aware of the high costs of initiating legal processes in Ireland. It's a bit much to waste money on this and then ask your average Irish punter to financially support your organisation.

    I presume the Irish Red Cross follow each comment on this meticulously, so here's my two cents whether you want them or not; When you run an organisation, sometimes people will criticise you - rightly or wrongly. Sometimes they'll do it anonymously. It's wrong and massively costly for you to try and find out their identities. It's wrong to ask cash-strapped people to fund your organisation if this is what you're going to waste that money on. So, perhaps it's just time to put on your grown-up pants and get over it, and put that money where it's really needed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous4:54 AM

    Has anyone heard the rumour? The three 'wise' men (Minister Kileen, Chairman David J. O'Callaghan and Vice Chairman, Tony Lawlor) met at the weekend at a function for the Irish Red Cross in County Clare. I'm a volunteer in the midlands and heard this news yesterday. (Note for the Irish Red Cross IT Forensic expert: yes I will give you a little clue about my whereabouts as you try to hunt me down as well as the other people who have posted comments....I'm in the Midlands, I am a volunteer of the Irish Red Cross....so if you are any good at your job and since you are taking lots Irish Red Cross money...you should be able to find me with help from my little clues....Will you then suspend me from being a volunteer? Try to sue me for expressing a view or an opinion....come off it, will you guys get a grip, you are making a show of yourselves!!!).

    Sorry back to the three wise men meeting up in Clare. Here in the midlands we dont know why they met over the weekend. Some of us tried to find out but got the usual conflicting views. There was an Irish Red Cross event alright, first aid course or something but what was the real reason. Lots of gossip and rumours. One story goes is that Lawlor was asked for his resignation and he was told that his departure is necessary for the good of the Irish Red Cross. Some said O'Callaghan wants him to step down before the findings of the independent accountants investigation into the tipperary bank account but others said he was told not to go forward for Executive or Vice Chair next year. Impossible to tell if true or not. Another story is that they were meeting to discuss the appointment of a new Secretary General as soon as possible. And another is that the Vice Chairman summoned the other two wise men to lay down the law and tell them how he runs the Irish Red Cross and that nothing would be changing anytime soon. Who really knows. Or maybe they were meeting because they are all connected somehow.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous7:16 AM

    I am a serving member of the Irish Red Cross and i can only say i am ashamed to be associated with this organisation any longer.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous3:34 AM

    The good side of this whole saga is that a past long serving staff member kept a daily diary of the events in Merion Square these documents show in great detail the abuses of power and the constant harrasement that staff took from both Central Council members and some senior paid staff.

    I would hope that in time to come that these documents will formulate a history of the Irish Red Cross and name and shame a few of the architects of the current mess.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous7:46 AM

    good on you for keeping a diary, it would be a huge assesst to all us on the ground bound to silence by threats of being sued if you photocopied such documents and send to Mark Tighe of the newspapers. Let him blow it all wide open.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous10:16 AM

    The silence from the inner sanctum of the Irish Red Cross is deafening. The policy of the PR person in his advice to the Society is no doubt what he practices himself, whatever you do say nothing and they will all get fed up and eventually the bad news will be yesterdays news and for that little bit of advice here is my bill, thank you very much.

    I am not ashamed as a life member to be involved with the Red Cross. I am however ashamed to be associated in anyway with the likes of the current temporary Secretary General and most of the present Executive and many of the past Executive members. The members of the Executive who recently found Noel Wardick guilty of gross misconduct should hide in the shame they have brought upon themselves. What right have they as voluntary members to stand judge over any fulltime member of staff? What right do they as non financial contributors to the running of the Society have to stand or be appointed as impartial judges when it was they who Noel Wardick was accusing of acting outside the best interest of the Society? Who is standing judge over them? What experience, professional or otherwise, do these Executive members have in dealing with industrial relations and acting as Judge in the case of Noel Wardick? Where are all the Council members or are they still waiting for that 2 hour window in November when each will have 4 mins each to make a stand and then they will have to wait another six months to have their 4 minutes again. Why are you waiting until November??? Do something now!

    What happened to the motion of no confidence in the Society's leaders passed by the Cork Area? Why has this not been communicated to the other Areas? Why is the current Secretary General not taking phone calls and responding to correspondences? Does the Red Cross still have an account in the EBS that they opened when one of the board of Red Cross was an employee of that institution? I am not suggesting he had any influence, but the purpose was to gain the maximum interest on monies on deposit which were suposed to go to overseas projects. Why would the Red Cross need interest on emergency appeal money ? Where did that interest really go?? Good question !

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous2:11 PM

    All the information on the Historical facts will come out in due course. Be patient, the time is near when the doo doo is going to hit the fan or should I say the front door of Merrion Square and the current Secretary General will be the one made stand out on the ledge by the Executive to do some answering, so he had best get his best suit ironed. What more can he expect for his over full wage packet !

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous1:36 AM

    Finnian Mc Grath Td put a question to the Minister re: Red Cross this is the answer.

    "The Society, while being a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is legally separate and independent from the Federation. The Federation acts as a resource to the Society rather than a monitoring body, it does not have a policing role."

    Had the Minster been briefed properly then he would be aware that the above is not accurate and that the Society can be sanctioned by the Federation and ICRC.

    Please see Constitution of the League Article 6 paragrah 6 as (adopted by the League on 21st June 1973 revised on 6th December 1973, 1st May 1974 14 Sept 1977 and 29th April 1982.
    The full text is available through the Henry Dunant Institute and alsoo found in the ICRC Red Cross Handbook.

    Article 7 of same also refers to the rights and duties of National Societies. National Societies are there to support the League not the other way about. Paragrah 2 (a)

    Article 7 2 (b) says; to ensure that the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross are carefully observed in the activities of the Society and that none of it's subordinate bodies offend against those principles.

    Would the actions of Executive members threatening members and staff with legal action should they bring to the attention of the Society matters which are in direct conflict with the Principles be in breach of this article? I would believe, yes.

    What are the snactions against these individuals who would knowingly change minutes of meetings, knowingly bully members and staff, knowingly make rules and apply them retrospectively, knowingly ignore correspondence. Knowingly keep money in accounts for long periods which were meant for emergency appeals. Knowingly use their position to act outside the best interest of the Principles of the Red Cross.
    We shall see how these sanctions are enforced.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous5:19 AM

    GRAVY TRAIN AND SANDWICHES!!

    Sums up the Irish Red Cross these last number of years.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous5:47 AM

    A vote of no confidence in the Irish Red Cross leaders from the Cork Area you say above?? Is this true?? Can anyone from Cork Area confirm this? If true has the Cork Area received an official response from the 'leaders'?? How many other Areas have sent in votes of no-confidence? Can our new Chairman do something about this? Take action? How many other Areas have sent in votes of no-confidence in the temporary Secretary General and Executive? How many are thinking of doing it. If true and Cork Area did this then all I can say is GO ON THE REBELS!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous2:09 PM

    That should read "Gravy Train and then sandwiches"

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous1:05 AM

    A vote of no confidence will have the same effect as spitting in the liffey !

    What difference does it make to the guilty if you as a member have confidence or not. Your letters or votes will change nothing. You might get an acknowledgement like I have in the past which reads "We have noted your comments". Noted means they didn't even read them they just flushed them !

    What will make change is an open admission by those involved that they are guilty of breach of trust.

    We trusted in them with the authority to manage the Irish Red Cross, they are now speaking through closed teeth and doing what they have done for decades "Nothing". What will the appointed accountants coming back with or as I firmly believe this is just another smoke grenade to appease the media.

    What will a new chariman do? He can always do what his Predecessors, did flap about for awhile with great intentions, but the oldtimers will sonn wear that nothion out of him. I can forsee the whole plot as it happened to several well intentioned people before.

    Why did John Roycroft leave? did anyone think of asking? was he like many before him, worn down with the constant battle of watching your back.

    This forum has been virtually ignored by the membership for one reason they are like the churches in Ireland unwilling and unable to accept any wrong doing by their piers and are currenly being told the old addage, that yer man Wardick is just trouble so don't listen to anything he has to say, he must be wrong he has to be wrong.

    Thus the verdick by the appointed voluntary members of the Executive sent to find him guilty at any cost ! Gross misconduct, what a joke !

    The Secretary General (temporary) "Overpaid", has much to answer for the current debacle. Although he like many others is held up by the puppet strings of memebrs of the Executive. Why is there no investigation by the Executive into his actions which led to Mr Wardick taking the position of exposing the Executive and Management.

    Did a single member of the Central Concil even consider that in all the last 20 years they have served that all the complaints sent to Merrion Square contained the truth.

    Who is organising the current reforms which will change everything? Putting the fox into to mind the chickens comes to mind!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous3:30 AM

    Where is this supposed firm of 'independent accountants' hired to investigate the Tipperary Bank account that contained an undeclared amount of €162,000. Remember the Irish Red Cross sent an offical statement to the Sunday Independent announcing this. Why have they not named the firm? Has the firm really been hired? When will this firm start its investigation? Who is in charge of this investigation? Irish Red Cross is gone silent on it and when Irish Red Cross does this something has changed. Something is begining to smell not right here. Very suspect.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous3:54 AM

    GO ON THE REBELS is right Mr/Ms. commentor from above!!!

    Yes its true. One of the Irish Red Cross's biggest areas in the country (Cork) has issued a vote of no-confidence in the temporary Secretary General and two of his managers who run services in Ireland. Sure who else would issue the first major no vote of confidence then the rebel county. Not called rebels for nothing!!

    The cracks are appearing very wide in the cushy arrangement at the top of Irish Red Cross. If I were the three people named in the vote of no confidence I would be very worried. Why Cork says they have no confidence in you you are in big trouble. And if anyone is wondering Noel Wardick is not one of the managers named in the vote of no confidence.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous5:57 AM

    Great to see the Secretary General post advertised but will they be advertising all the other internal posts that he has taken on over the last few months also?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous7:35 AM

    Congratulations Noel!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Noel, thank you for having the courage to stand up and expose the organisation for what it is. However it seems, as is the tradition here in Ireland, the virtuous one who stands up for right is shafted. Hopefully, like many of the other whistle-blowers eventually people will look back and realise you were the decent one.

    If there is anything that I can do to help don't hesitate to ask.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The great thing about being a subscriber to this blog is that in all my 30 year of Campaigning for and against the Irish Red Cross every single truth as I believed it is now being shown to be true. I saw minutes manipulated to an extent that the business discussed appeared to be at a different meeting. I retain the transcripts and the letters which shown clearly the guilt of particular individuals. I have exposed millions of euro sitting in accounts and await the results of the investigation which has yet to be carried out over a decade later. Mr Lawlor and Ms Callan were given the task to investigate these claims.

    I have three weeks ago written to the regional office in Mayo and have received no response!
    If anyone wants copies of the accounts which prove that the Irish Red Cross retained money for long periods I will email them no problem.

    Well done Noel, for doing the right thing, like myself you will be vindicated but not by the members of the Executive. Truth is at the end of a long road, but did one ever think that the abuser would be the very organisation who is there to protect the abused !

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Normally I make a point of using my own name when I say something in public. This seems to be a case when adding ones numbers to the anonymous seems more appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous5:00 PM

    Hi, Mr Lawlor. Have an anonymous comment from me, too. Have fun sorting the wheat from the chaff, in the unlikely event that Google capitulate to your preposterous demands.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The sad thing about the apparent mismanagement of this situation is that even if the Executive turn out to be blameless, their reactions to the accusations have not exactly been to show transparency (e.g. who are the "independent" accountants? why does it need to be secret?). Situations like this erode trust in charities generally and the people who will suffer most in the long term are the people the charity should be helping.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Honestly, this is simply jaw-dropping. I can only think that they've gone stark, raving mad -- or that they are very, very scared of having something truly dreadful come to light. Either way, it's shocking that they're in charge of anything, let along such an important charity.

    ReplyDelete