Monday, January 10, 2011

Actions of senior voluntary members a "serious governance risk for the Irish Red Cross" according to internal investigation

Following intense political and media pressure after revelations that officers of the Irish Red Cross Tipperary Branch, including the organisation’s current Vice Chairman, Tony Lawlor, had an undeclared bank account for over three years containing €162,000 collected for victims of the Asian tsunami in 2005, the Irish Red Cross launched an internal investigation in November 2010. Despite many weaknesses in the report, a clear conflict of interest for the three investigators who are part of Irish Red Cross governance structures and the failure to interview key informants the report nevertheless highlights a litany of financial and administrative failures by the officers of the Tipperary branch. It categorically demonstrates that certain individuals, who have yet to be held accountable, were guilty of constant violations of Irish Red Cross accounting policy over at least a three year period. The damning report opens up as many questions as it attempts to answer. It will therefore be incumbent on the new Secretary General, once appointed, to ensure these questions are both answered and dealt with.

The internal report, which is available on line at

concludes on at least three occasions that what transpired at the Tipperary branch and at other branches posed a serious risk to the governance of the Irish Red Cross. In one section the report states:

Concerns were also raised to the reviewers that senior voluntary members serving on National Committees were reluctant to support the professional staff in applying rules relating to how non compliant Branches would be dealt with”. The report accepts that “this may have been so” while also noting that “it was not in our view malicious in motivation but motivated by a concern for volunteers who may be under pressure”. Most importantly, however, in relation to the excuses and explanations given by senior volunteers, the internal report states “These concerns while understandable are misguided and pose a serious governance risk for the Irish Red Cross”.

In any well functioning organisation individuals or groups of individuals whose actions are deemed to “pose a serious governance risk” to the organisation would be removed immediately and banned from holding office in that organisation ever again.

The last sentence of the internal report states that this whole episode has been a “very painful learning experience for the IRC at all levels and has significantly undermined the organisation”. At the end of the day there can be only one conclusion and it’s that the internal report is clearly implying certain individuals have, through their actions and behaviours, “undermined” the Irish Red Cross. The question must therefore be asked why those same individuals have not only not been held to account but why does at least one of them continue to occupy a senior honorary officer position on the National Executive of the organisation?

The internal report also calls for “appropriate and clear procedures to protect the organisation and its dedicated volunteers and staff”. If those very individuals responsible for “undermining” the organisation are not comprehensively dealt with and remain in positions of power and authority then the report is absolutely correct in calling for “procedures to protect the organisation”. Senior individuals have clearly shown themselves more than capable of violating critically important organisational rules and regulations to the detriment of the Society. In the absence of their immediate removal from office extremely rigorous and robust procedures combined with their strict implementation are urgently required to protect the Irish Red Cross and to significantly dilute the influence of these people.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that happen-Martin Luther King


  1. Response to the above comment "Senior individuals have clearly shown themselves more than capable of violating critically important organisational rules and regulations to the detriment of the Society". There is a responsibility upon all members and especially the management to insure that the laws of this land are adhered to. This week the Society has been accused of breaching the laws of this land and the Chairman and Secretary General and others have been made aware of this breach and yet they remain silent. I ask all members to ask immediately what this breach of Irish law is and who is responsible? Or is this just another display of contempt for this State and it's people.

  2. Anonymous12:21 PM

    It does not surprise me of the on goings within the Irish Red Cross, as a long time subscriber to the Red Cross in another Country I was soon to find out that the Irish Red Cross is not alone in protectionist policies when dealing with individuals who have no place in the real world. They create a position of importance and all gather on this stage of self patronisation and smile and bend over and bow to each others incompetence. They live in the world of dreams and as with all dreams there is an awakening.

    I commend the subscribers and have forwarded this Blog onto all my colleagues’ world wide. Who in the field of education will revel in the unfolding of this fine example of how an organisation can become entangled in a web of deceit and poor governance. I thought more of the Irish people than to allow this, but it appears that the canvas of failure is covered with broad strokes which now includes the Irish Red Cross.

  3. Anonymous3:25 AM

    I see Irish Red Cross has a lead story on their website about the one year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. They thank the Irish public for the millions of Euros that they donated to the Haiti appeal. What they dont mention is the €600,000 that was given by the general public and which was intended for the Haiti appeal but which the Irish Red Cross decided to put into its national accounts to be used to cover up the huge organisational deficit. This €600,000, given in good faith by the Irish public for Haiti was never used for that purpose. Instead it was used to pay for law suits against Google and UPC, payment of stupidly high salaries of the CEO of €160,000 and a range of other local expenses here in Ireland including expensive consultants fees.

    The Irish Red Cross did not break even in 2010 as it claims. It made more than €600,000 in losses. It was able to hide these losses by using €600,000 of Haiti money to cover them up.

    Its disgusting disgusting disgusting. And all those involved in covering this up or staying silent should be ashamed of themselves, the Central Council, the Executive Committee, the Acting Secretary General (if he is still there and not replaced yet) and the finance controller (although its not clear if IRC has one). Disgusting, its daylight robbery of Irish people.

  4. Anonymous4:01 AM

    Remember the Prime Time program in August 2010 which exposed the Irish Red Cross for the organisation that it really is? The spokeswoman like a rabbit caught in headlights? The CEO hiding in his office afraid of the Prime Time reporter. The CEO claiming he was away on holidays when he was hiding in his office and sending out the spokeswoman to get slaughtered instead!!!

    I remember one of the main issues was the purchasing of blankets for pakistan through an irish company for €12 a blanket when Wardick said he wanted to buy them in Pakistan as per the advice of the International Red Cross, for €3 a blanket. Wardick was instructed to buy the Irish €12 blankets. Apparently this resulted in tens of thousands of Irish public money being wasted just because some board member insisted on it? Has this board member been forced to pay back this money to the Irish Red Cross? Who is this board member? Has he been removed? Lets hope so.

  5. At least Dick Turpin and others wore a mask !

  6. Anonymous11:54 PM

    The pople of Haiti in these days will reflect on the facta year has pased and their circumstance has improved little with the consequences of the disaster still killing their children and vunerable.

    The Red Cross members in Ireland must also reflect on the knowledge that they have manipulted the use of an Appeal for these vulnerable people to attain monies which truly now belongs to the Haitian people.

    Shame on you ! Shame on your failure to act !
    Shame on your organisation !
    Shame on your leaders!
    Shame on you !

  7. Anonymous7:20 AM

    Sure is it not true that Irish wool is better than any other wool it might even be tweed!

    Sure why would you have friends if ye cannot look after them ! So is it not right that all them poor people in pakistan have the best tweed blankets that we can afford !

  8. Anonymous6:02 AM

    Shame on all those people in Irish Red Cross who know about the misuse of the Haiti €600,000 and who did nothing about it and who still do nothing about it. What are the senior managers doing about this? What about the two managers who the Cork area voted no confidence in? No wonder the Cork area voted no confidence in them! Whose in charge of finance? Are they part of taking the Haiti money? Why their silence?

    I agree with the poster above. Shame on you all, you make me sick to the pit of my stomach. Go to Haiti and live in a tent city slum with no water and no toilets, no jobs, no money, little or no food and no protection from the weather. Go to Haiti and watch young girls raped and abused because they have no protection in these slums. You dont have the back bone to go to Haiti, you are too worried about covering up deceit and wrongdoing in the Irish Red Cross so you can save your own necks. How much good work would €600,000 do to help these people but no, instead you use the money to hide your losses in Ireland and protect your jobs. You are sad pathetic shameful people.

  9. Anonymous8:17 AM

    When will someone apart from Wardick have the courage to go to the Irish Red Cross Vice Chairman and tell him to resign? Until he resigns Irish Red Cross will never put its problems behind it.

  10. On the 15th of November I made a request under the Data Protection Act 1988 - 2003 for all documentation held by the Irish Red Cross which related to me to be copied to me. This process is a legal requirement and must be completed within 40 days.

    Despite several emails to the Temporary Secretary General the request was not responded to in the allotted time. Then on the 30th December 4 days after the legal deadline had passed the Temporary Sec. Gen emailed me and said in a brief response, “the information would be sent the following week”. He also stated in the same email that he believes that the Society has no documentation relating to myself. He then later emailed that day seemingly blaming the Society’s legal team for the delay. Well, he has to blame someone!

    Then the lines of communication went dead until the 13th January 60 days after the request. This is 20 days over the legal limit! A letter eventually arrived from Mr O Sullivan which stated for the record that the Society has no records relating to myself.

    Now this is more than peculiar as when one considers that I am a member for 36 years and was Area Secretary for several years as well as being on the overseas committee for 3 years. I was mentioned in Executive minutes several times. So the several hundred documents that I have from Merrion Square only exist in my possession, according to the Temporary Sec. Gen., no Executive minutes exist, no Central Council minutes exist, no overseas committee minutes exist, no Branch records exist, need I go on. The Irish Red Cross has not only broken the law by failing to adhere to the deadline the Acting Secretary General has worsened the situation by claiming the Society has no documents relating to me when I have over many years written numerous correspondence to and received correspondence from the Irish Red Cross. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is now to investigate the Irish Red Cross.

    Ultimate responsibility for the actions of the Irish Red Cross rests with the Central Council. The Central Council collectively and as individuals has the ultimate responsibility if the Society breaks the law. Maybe the members of this Council will also arrange for the money owed to the people of Haiti to be given to them and not kept in the national accounts to cover up losses which is the case at the moment and a proper investigation held and Noel Wardick re instated to his post? Perhaps all this can be discussed at the February Central Council meeting?

  11. I have for the last 20 years looked for Tony Lawlor's resignation to no avail. I did it when they sacked Louis White I did when I was on the overseas committeee and found there were irregularities in the overseas funds. I did it when Jim Walsh was expelled. I did it when I discovered that they were fixing minutes.
    I did it when the treasurer Des Kavanagh was threatening me with court action for daring to go up against the Council and Executive.
    I did it several times recently and I do it now they are beyond belief that they in total do not resign.

    So whilst I applaud Noel he is not the only one and neither am I

    Gerard Moyne

  12. Anonymous4:41 AM

    "serious administrative failures"-Minister for Defence, Tony Killeen on Irish Red Cross

    "serious deficiencies in our accounting procedures"-Irish Red Cross Chairman

    "Irish Red Cross is in breach of Standard Accounting Practice for Charities"-External auditors of Irish Red Cross, BDO, on the secret Irish Red Cross €7 million property portfolio

    "Noel Wardick should be immediately re-instated and an independent investigation launched"-Transparency International

    And now:

    Irish Red Cross is apparently being investigated by the Data Protection Commissioner for possible breaches by the Society of Irish law!

    And still no-one is held accountable. Apart from the shame and disgrace brought on the Irish Red Cross what is so embarrassing is watching grown men and women be so scared and afraid of one man, the Tipperary tsunami bank scandal man. Why is it that you are so afraid of him? You are like frightened little school children in the playground hiding from the bigger school boy. Until he is removed and until a new secretary general is in place the shame and disgrace will continue for a long long time

  13. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Spill the beans someone please ! on the political interventions within the Irish Red Cross. Why is the almost ex Minister Kileen so afraid of what lies within the walls of Merrion Square. Will the blood letting, as another poster suggested, expose the truth behind the involvement of politics, the IRA and the Irish Red Cross. Although this is not new it certainly does make the current situation more understandable. No one is afraid of Tony Lawlor they are afraid that someone will find out about the truth ! The Irish Red Cross was set up to do good and has done very, very well, from all those lovely donations they get from us fools.

    Give the people from Haiti their money !

  14. Anonymous4:09 PM

    The below posting appeared on the Irish Red Cross facebook discussion page and is credited to an author going by the name of Henry Dunant. I have decided to post it on the Blog as it is excellently written and brilliantly articulated-Noel Wardick

    Truth will prevail.
    History has proven time and time again that no matter how strangled and suffocated truth is the truth will emerge. A small few in the Irish Red Cross have managed for over 20 years to deceive and strike fear into the Staff and Volunteers of the Irish Red Cross. This deception and disgraceful behaviour has been consistent over many years, however what has been consistent too are the voices fighting to save the Irish Red Cross, voices questioning this behaviour, voices saying this is not acceptable, voices saying the Irish Red Cross is conducting itself in contravention of everything the Red Cross Movement stands for, voices saying that it is not for one or two people to maintain a stranglehold on the organisation who act as if the organisation is their personal creation - how vain they are.
    These voices have fought to be heard, often it appears the powerful have smothered these voices, however these voices have been heard. The Red Cross Movement was created from an idea, an idea that grew based on the fundamental principal of humanity. The idea has created one of the largest and most respected humanitarian organisations in the world. One idea - one man - but the idea was good.
    Those in the Irish Red Cross who are actively destroying the organisation should be aware that no matter how isolated the voices of dissent may be, and no matter how easy it is to apparently silence those voices, the voices are planting the seed of an idea, and have been for many years. The idea is that the Irish Red Cross can be an organisation that behaves in accordance with the very core priniciples of the Red Cross Movement, it can be an organisation that conducts itself with the highest standards of corporate governance, it can be an organisation without financial irregularities, it can be an organisation that treats its Volunteers and Staff with dignity and respect.
    This is a good idea, and history has shown how powerful a good idea can be.
    Truth will prevail.