Monday, November 8, 2010

Reeling back the years: Irish Red Cross problems extend back decades

During the last eleven months Irish media and this Blog have referred to the decade’s long nature of Irish Red Cross problems and dysfunction. The current problems and media revelations have all existed for many years and Irish media and Irish politicians have been writing about them and asking parliamentary questions about them since the mid 1980’s. The problems intensified and worsened during the 90’s and during the first decade of the 21st century. The common denominator during all these years is the same handful of people who control and dominate the Irish Red Cross.

The Blog therefore thought it important to give readers a flavour of the historical nature of these problems. Below can be found two separate links to a series of parliamentary questions on the Irish Red Cross from 1998 and 1991 respectively. In addition to these links the Blog has also transcribed the full content from an Irish Times article dated February 1998 which reports on serious problems within the Society at that time. All of the material below is a very small representative sample from the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) and media archives on the Irish Red Cross.

The first link below relates to parliamentary questions asked by Deputy Pat Rabbitte, Labour Party, on 15th December 1998. Deputy Rabbitte asks a number of questions including the following:

· Asked the Minister if his attention has been drawn to reports of serious industrial relations problems within the Irish Red Cross; the plans, if any, he has to take any action to try to secure a settlement of these problems.
· Asked the Minister for Defence if there is a staff representative on the Executive Committee of the Irish Red Cross; if not, the plans, if any he has to provide for a staff representative.
· Asked the Minister for Defence if any of the government’s grant-in-aid to the Irish Red Cross has been used in regard to legal costs incurred by the Society and its acting general secretary in a case taken by the former general secretary

The second link below covers a series of parliamentary questions asked by Deputy Jim O’Keefe, Fine Gael, about the Irish Red Cross on the 12th June 1991 and the ensuing discussion that takes place between him, the Deputy Cheann Comhairle (Deputy Chairman of the Parliament) and the then Minister for Defence, Mr. Brendan Daly. The lengthy discussion that takes place concerns an unseemly, bitter and embarrassing row between members of the Irish Red Cross Executive Committee and the Irish Red Cross Chairman at the time, Derry O’Donovan. At one stage during the debate Deputy O’Keefe states “the Government are guilty of gross negligence and dereliction of duty in not facing up to the issue, in not proposing the name of the new chairman for appointment by the President”.$query1%29%3C%3DDATE%3C%3D%28$query2%29%29%20AND%20%28%28$query4%29%29%3ASPEAKER%20AND%20%28%28$query5%29%29%3Aheading%20AND%20%28%28$query6%29%29%3ACATEGORY%20AND%20%28%28$query3%29%29%3Ahouse%20AND%20%28%28$query7%29%29%3Avolume%20AND%20%28%28$query8%29%29%3Acolnumber%20AND%20%28%28$query%29%29&query1=19910601&query2=19910630&query5=Irish%20Red%20Cross&docid=271551&docdb=Debates&dbname=Debates&sorting=none&operator=and&TemplateName=predoc.tmpl&setCookie=1

The following newspaper article is taken from the Irish Times, February 1998:

Former FG minister takes over at Irish Red Cross as secretary-general resigns


The former Fine Gael minister for finance, Mr. Richie Ryan, has taken over the running of the Irish Red Cross Society following the departure of its secretary general, Mr. Martin Good.

Mr. Good’s resignation two weeks ago followed a series of internal disagreements and industrial relations problems within the organisation. It is believed he left after a substantial severance settlement was agreed with the society.

Mr. Ryan was appointed last May as the fourth chairman of the Irish Red Cross in seven years, shortly before the rainbow coalition government left office.

A number of other senior staff, including the public relations officer, youth officer and fund-raising manager, have left the society recently.

Tension rose in recent months between Mr. Good and members of the 12-member Executive Committee, which takes an active interest in the running of the society.

Mr. Good was not chosen to represent the organisation at a major conference organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Seville last November, although three members of the executive committee attended.

Mr. Good was appointed secretary general in September 1991 for three years, and his contract was later made permanent. Speaking from Geneva last night, he confirmed he had resigned on February 5th. He declined to comment further.

Industrial relations difficulties flared up last autumn after management proposed a restructuring plan. After one member of staff was appointed to a newly created senior post colleagues complained to their union, SIPTU, that no interviews were conducted.

SIPTU took the matter to the Labour Court, which appointed an intermediary to mediate between the two sides. According to Mr. Mike Jennings of SIPTU, the industrial relations problems have been ongoing for some time.

The charity incurred legal costs of more than £100,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to confirm its expulsion of one central council member, Mr. Jim Walsh, for talking to the Irish Times in 1993. The Supreme Court ruled that the Irish Red Cross did not have the power to expel Mr. Walsh retrospectively. He had been a member for 35 years. Mr. Ryan said yesterday the society had agreed not to comment on Mr. Good’s departure.

The Red Cross received £535,000 in Government grants last year, of which £100,000 went to pay the annual subscription to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. Salaries amounted to £370,000. The overall turnover was £1.9 million last year.

According to sources, the ICRC is “displeased” at the number of party political nominees involved in the Irish organisation.

Mr. Ryan said he had “heard this view expressed” in Geneva. However, he pointed out that the number of political nominees on the central council had fallen from 22 to 16, out of 40 members.
The Irish Red Cross Society was set up by an Act of Oireachtas in 1939. The President of Ireland is by law its president.

Aside from Government funds, it raises money through general subscriptions and special appeals. In recent years, however, appeals have met a varied response. An appeal for the volcano victims in Monserrat raised only £160 last year, but tens of thousands of pounds were raised for the victims of land-mines.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce-Karl Marx

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State-Unknown


  1. Anonymous10:09 AM

    Is it not a lucky thing that we are not up against the same guys that Joan too on ! History shows that they will burn anyone who refuses to acknowledge that the truth is not what the masses need to hear !

    The Red Cross is like the leaning tower of Pizza it will no doubt fall unless someone decides to get a shovel out and do some reinforcing !

  2. This is good context. Keep up the good work.

  3. Anonymous11:49 PM

    I get up in the morning and just before looking out to see how awful the weather might be I look at the blog to see how awful the current revelations might be. The Blog has become a tonic something to refer people to during the day when they struggle with situations in their community organisation where nepotism is ripe and intimidation is off the scale in regards to what can be described as acceptable.

    So when I go around the Country talking to groups I use the Blog as a reinforcement and excellent example of how politics and individuals can copulate and produce a resulting replica.

    Keep up the good work Mr Wardick it has become an essential read and will no doubt become a future reference to sociology students who wish to understand the resultant of Irish political systems and how individuals can see deviant behaviour as being normal in the context of Irish Society.

  4. Anonymous5:28 AM

    Excellent blogger, well done. This latest article is proof of what you have been saying all along, that the problems you have highlighted are going on for years and long before you arrived on the scene. I know this but good your readers see it for themselves.

    Here is some interesting questions:

    In 1999 the Finance Manager in the Irish Red Cross, Louis White was sacked. This was because he was standing up to the so called inner sanctum and he was asking them very hard questions and refusing to do things 'the way they wanted' shall we say. Ask anyone on the staff at the time and they will confirm Louis was 100% honest and good. These are not qualities liked by the inner sanctum. Why after Louis was fired did the inner sanctum fire Coopers and Lybrand as the auditors? Is it because, like Louis, they knew too much?

    Why after Louis was fired did the Treasurer write off £10,000 owed by the Tipperary Branch (the one which Tony Lawlor runs) on the ambulance account? As a reward for firing Louis possibly? This meant the Irish Red Cross did not and never did receive this £10,000.

    Someone needs to investigate the Irish Red Cross deeply. Louis White was fired for exposing these guys. Noel Wardick has been suspended for exposing these guys. Everyone knows he will be fired any day now. Why are the inner sanctum so scared and afraid of people like White and Wardick and many others who have stood up to them over the years. Lots and lots to hide is why.

  5. Anonymous3:25 PM

    TThere comes a time when we all must sit back and take stock of any situation, when we read back over all the comments or virtually all the comments in this Blog there is a common tread and this is there is a definitive feeling that there is or may be corruption in many forms within the Irish Red Cross. It appears that considering all the information at hand to date there is good cause to believe that the Executive Committee of the Irish Red Cross are clearly contravening both the Geneva conventions and the articles which govern National Societies and thus are in contravention of their responsibilities as clearly stated in the Principles.

    So the next step is I would suggest, is a formal complaint be sent to all Nations who are members of the league detailing the level that the management are prepared to stoop to. Whist this is a step which will request the expulsion of the Irish Red Cross from the League it appears that such a resolution is the only way that action will be taken against the Executive Committee as the Central Council have as much spine as a jellyfish. The Central Council members are willing to accept that it is not their responsibility as individuals to act and will happily go with the flow as long as it does not effect them. The Central Council memebrs will quite happily sit back and enjoy anonymity but their exposure is paramount to their being held wholly responsible for the actions that are currently being taken by the Executive.

    So lets see what we can do to shake this tree and see how many bad apples fall !