Monday, May 2, 2011

Irish Minister for Health forces resignation of Health Service Executive Board, could Irish Red Cross face a similar fate?

On Thursday 28th April 2011 the Irish Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, forced every member of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Board to resign. The HSE is responsible for the health care system in Ireland. This was a bold, dramatic and historic move by a serving government minister. Minister Reilly is to be commended for his courage and determination. The sacking of the HSE Board was, according to the Minister, necessary in order to allow him and his colleagues, conduct a root and branch reform of Ireland’s health system. Dr. Reilly has set an excellent precedent, one that should be followed by others, including Minister for Justice and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, who has statutory responsibility for the Irish Red Cross.

No doubt if requested to seek the resignation of the Irish Red Cross Executive Committee and Central Council the Minister would reply that he is precluded from intervening in an independent organisation. The Minister’s civil servants, who draft his answers to parliamentary questions with tiresome predictability and occasional inaccuracy, continue to be incorrect in the assertion that the Minister cannot get involved.

Under the Red Cross Act 1938, Section 1, Subsection 2, the Government may, should it deem it necessary, intervene directly in the ‘management and administration of the affairs of the Society’ as well as in ‘any other matters in relation to the Society in respect of which it appears to the Government desirable and proper that provision should be made’.

Minister Shatter is therefore perfectly entitled under law to directly involve himself in the affairs of the Irish Red Cross. Minister Shatter’s department gives the Irish Red Cross nearly €1 million in tax payers’ money annually. In light of the financial irregularities revealed in the media and on RTE’s Prime Time last year and the failure of the Society to hold those responsible accountable surely it is now incumbent on the Minister to directly engage in order to ensure the protection of hardworking Irish tax payers’ money.

The Minister should follow the brave example of his colleague Dr. Reilly and immediately demand the resignation of the Irish Red Cross Executive Committee and Central Council. The Minister should then appoint a small interim Board of six or seven competent and experienced individuals chosen by him for a period of twelve months to work with the recently appointed Secretary General, Donal Forde. This interim board and Mr. Forde should be tasked by the Government to begin a detailed and extensive consultation process with the Society’s staff and its 6,000 members with a view to achieving fundamental, deep rooted and long lasting reform. This process, if handled professionally and openly, could be concluded by late 2012 with new primary and secondary legislation in place, a new Irish Red Cross Constitution agreed, and a completely new Central Council and Executive Committee appointed.

If Minister Shatter and his civil servants want to they will find plenty of excuses not to get involved. In this they will mirror successive Fianna Fail governments.

It should be noted that under the 2004 Health Act the Board of the Health Service Executive (HSE) is specifically protected from collective dismissal by a government minister. Dr. Reilly, had he chosen, could easily have hidden behind this piece of law and said ‘there is nothing I can do’. Instead the Minister showed guts and determination and despite the protective cover of legislation he used his moral authority and told the HSE Board he wished them all to resign and resign they did.

Minister Shatter is in a much stronger position than the Minister for Health as he is permitted under law to directly intervene in the Irish Red Cross. The Minister for Finance, Mr. Michael Noonan, has recently made it explicitly clear to Ireland’s bankrupt banks that he expects to see ‘Board renewal’ as a matter of priority. He has requested written plans from the banks in this regard. AIB, one of Ireland’s largest banks, immediately indicated to the Minister that three of its longest serving board members would not be going forward for another term again. The Minister welcomed their resignations.

So Minister Shatter, two of your government ministerial colleagues are leading the way in tackling poor and incompetent governance. They are demanding and achieving board resignations as a first and necessary step in the reform process. They are insisting that board members be held accountable. As Dr. Reilly said in an interview after the HSE board resigned ‘I talked the talk while in Opposition and now I intend to walk the walk while in Government’.

Minister Shatter, it is now your turn to be decisive and ‘walk the walk’. The Irish Red Cross Board must go. You as Minister can make this happen. Demand their resignations and end this crisis once and for all.

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:51 AM

    Might I add Sir that the Minsiter of Defence has always been directly involved in the Irish Red Cross. When I sat on the Overseas Committee many years ago and brought the matter of funding irregularities to the Attention of the Executive, this resulted on our Committee being stood down pending and investigation by Tony Lawlor Sheila Callan and Col. Clune. of course they have to date not carried out this investigation.

    The Minister has a representative on this Committee whom I would presume would report directly back to the Minister. The Minister also has a Dept. Official who sits I believe on the Executive.

    The Minister appointed an ex. Dept employee as Chairman of the Society recently, this chairman has much experience of the Red Cross as he was in situ and most likely insuring that the Minister was being correctly briefed during the sacking of the financial director who was totally vindicated for his refusal to follow the orders of Tonly Lawlor and Des Kavanagh. Both Kavanagh and Lawlor despite this despicable act were in true Irish Red Cross form kept on as there were more despicable acts to follow and no one had the balls to go up against them even the Minister of defence. So don't let anyone tell you that politicians cannot interfere, Charlie Haughey was able to interfere in his utilising the services of the Irish Red Cross pre 1971 to move money to the North of Ireland for uses which have yet to be answered. The Gardai were hindered by the refusal of the Irish Red Cross to answer any questions as to were the money went.

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  2. Anonymous5:53 AM

    I would be interested to know when I as a member of the Irish Red Cross will have the opportunity to see or indeed contribute to the proposed governance changes within the Irish Red Cross.

    I this evening contacted the Secretary of my branch who said that she had only just received these proposals last week and that the Branch will send two representatives to meet with the Central Council Area representative on the 16th May and any changes will be sent to Head Office prior to the closing date of the 23rd.

    This does not include MOI ! Wonder why.

    My Branch Secretary said that, did I expect every member to get a copy of these governance proposals. To which I replied that 'I did'.

    I was informed that the proposals being put before the Council are only a draft and will not be finalised until October at the earliest and that no decision were being made at the May meeting ! I am so happy to hear that!

    I wonder is this true?

    I once again re-iterated my disgust at Mr Lawlor being able to hold money for three years and once again was told, 'this is in the past' and he did nothing wrong it was in a 'red cross account'. So all you fundraisers you can keep the money you raise for as long as you like, decades if you so wish and you will be doing nothing wrong as long as you keep it hidden in a Red Cross account.

    So this is where the Irish Red Cross lies in the midst of a true democratic framework where if they want your opinion they will give it to you!

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  3. Anonymous9:04 AM

    Very good article Blogger. I think you are correct. The Irish Red Cross has failed to reform itself. It has proven that it is incapable of doing so. The only option left is for the Minister to demand the resignation of all IRC board members and especially those with in excess of ten years service such as Tony Lawlor and Ted Noonan. They must be barred from ever again holding board positions in the Irish Red Cross.

    If the Minister ever does demand their resignations you can be sure the Irish Red Cross will probably refuse to resign and will probably issue a legal action against the Minister and the government. One thing is for sure they wont to the decent and honorable thing and resign with dignity.

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  4. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Is it true Darren Ryan, Chairperson of the Irish Red Cross Youth Working Group, is running against Tony Lawlor for the Vice Chair of the Society?

    Is it true someone is being prepared to run against Ted Noonan for the Treasurer position?

    If its true I hope every Central Council member will have enough cop on to vote for Darren and for whoever runs against Noonan. The old guard has to go and go on May 28th they must.

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  5. Anonymous2:14 PM

    blogger, when you look at how the Red Cross refused to give the Gardai any information during the investigation into the goings on with the money that went to Northern Ireland to fund the buying of arms and Charles Haughey in 1971 do you think for one minute they give a toss about the current Minister,
    "Dear Minister" hold your breath as this lot do noy give a toss what you or what any politician in this Country thinks. They are untouchable and have proved it again and again !

    Just keep the money coming in and save yourself Dail time answering the same questions over and over again, with the same stock answers.

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  6. Anonymous7:29 AM

    The comment above points to a painful truth about Irish Red Cross history. It is an established fact that £100,000 (Irish punts) was sent by Charles Haughey to help establish and arm the provisional IRA using the Irish Red Cross and their bank accounts on Baggot Street. This happened in 1970 or so. The money was sent to the north by the Irish Red Cross under the guise it was for 'northern Ireland refugees affected by the troubles'. It is recorded in the Arms Trial Court transcripts and numerous books including biographies on Charles Haughey and Jack Lynch. It was raised in Britain's WestMinister parliament in 2001 and the Irish Red Cross is specifically mentioned. The Link to the debate is below:

    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/westminster_hall/2001/may/09/anglo-irish-relations-official-documents

    Is it any wonder that a humanitarian organisation that was moving money for the purchase of arms to the Provos in the early 1970s totally lost its way over the next 40 years.

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  7. Anonymous7:34 AM

    Does anyone know what day May 8th is?

    May 8th is World Red Cross Day. This event is celebrated every year around the world by Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies as well as the IFRC and ICRC. It is a very important day for the Red Cross across the globe. At time of writing this comment, on Friday 6th May, there is not even one mention of this important day on the Irish Red Cross website.

    What is the Irish Red Cross head office doing to celebrate World Red Cross Day? What are IRC branches around the country doing to celebrate World Red Cross Day? How many of the 6,000 members even know it is World Red Cross Day on Sunday?

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  8. Anonymous12:28 AM

    Dear Blogger,

    The Irish Red Cross does not have 6000 members. The Irish Red Cross thinks it might have this amount and this is a scam used for years. If the Irish Red Cross were to actually go to the bother of finding out who is actually active or indeed alive as members one would find a more realistic figure.
    The old tactic of the Society was that anyone who did a First Aid course had to become a member this insured the ranks looked positive. The truth of the matter is that it is almost a defunct Society with a fraction of the above figure.
    Truth is better than fiction. Will Mr Forde ask the right questions now that they have found all the secret bank accounts. Is there anyone out there? Why do you think the Tipperary area did not file accounts as required for years? There is no one out there?

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  9. Anonymous1:43 AM

    In 1992 the Irish Red Cross Society sought to discover how many properties they actually owned, due to the continued incompetence of the same members of management that we have today.

    A letter was written to every Branch in the Country asking,
    "Does anyone one know what we own" ?
    In 2011 the same members of management who were busily destroying the Society in 1992, still do not have an answer why we have an insurance policy for 7 million on properties which the Auditors have over and over again questioned the existence of.
    What is the big secret?
    How have these properties been used since 1992 has there been rental income? Who is paying the rates. Do the donors next of kin know that the Irish Red Cross have may have misused these kind donations.
    It is not the first time the Red Cross has been in bother with donors.
    The Joseph Kessel Estate and the Jane Williams fund have in times past questioned the use and management of these funds.
    It's a pure mess and there are a number of common denominators and they are all sitting on Central Council and the Executive. Get rid of them !

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  10. Anonymous12:53 AM

    Blogger,

    "Ne Illegitimi Carborundum" or perhaps I should say "Noli nothis permittere te terere".

    Regards

    Gerard Moyne
    Life Member Irish Red Cross

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  11. Anonymous11:58 AM

    "In 2011 the same members of management who were busily destroying the Society in 1992" - Not one of the Irish Red Cross Managers were Managers in 1992.

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  12. Anonymous7:08 AM

    "In 2011 the same members of management who were busily destroying the Society in 1992" - Not one of the Irish Red Cross Managers were Managers in 1992. In a well functioning organisation the management and governance are normally seperate. One of the biggest problems with the IRC is that the Executive also took on the role of mangement thus the large turn over in staff. The same individuals such as Callan and Lawlor to name but ran the Society in 1992 as they do today. The question now is why the silence from today's management or are they having their strings controlled as happened to Marin Good in 1992. What a historical nightmare !

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  13. Anonymous9:50 AM

    I see the Red Cross has removed all the interesting comments from the youtube video, just as it was getting interesting !

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  14. Anonymous12:17 PM

    The Irish Red Cross are so predictable they are unable to deal with the reality and fact that they need to rid themsleves of the constraints of the past. The Executive Committee are removed from the reality that they will be held accountable for their actions. Also we will not be going away anytime soon.
    This is a historical time in the history of the Red Cross in Ireland for the first time in its history those that have acted to intimidate and bully are being held to account and they don't like it.
    Tough really, they are now getting some of the medicine they handed down to staff over the years and hopefully they will feel the same pain they deliveed to me for years.
    So Mr Lawlor Ms Callan and your friends get used to being in the spotlight !

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  15. Anonymous3:03 PM

    The Minister for Justice and Defence today (13.05.11) published legislation relating to White Collar Crime. The legislation is due to be passed into law by the summer recess. Below is an extract from an interview the Minister (Alan Shatter) gave to RTE Radio One 1 O'clock news today:

    "It provides for a new offence for the failure to provide information to the Gardai, in effect if a person has information that he or she knows might be of material assistance in either preventing the commission of a crime or indeed in securing the apprehension or prosecution or conviction of someone for a serious crime in what I describe as the white collar area, and if they fail to furnish that information to the Gardai that of itself can be a criminal offence. In this context we are talking about offences relating to banking, fund investments and other financial activities, money laundering, theft, fraud and corruption – a whole broad range of criminal offences which can if there is a conviction result in an individual being sentenced to a term of 5 years or more. What we want to ensure is that not only can the Gardai access information be it documentation or information held electronically but also that where people are aware that serious offences of this nature are being committed then they can’t simply look the other way but they are under a duty to disclose the information as soon as practical to the Garda authorities" (end quote)

    The endless reports and allegations aimed at the Irish Red Cross over the last year (and longer) all consistently point to serious and unacceptable practices at the Irish Red Cross. Hopefully this new legislation will once and for all remind the Executive Committee of their fidicuary duties relating to the positions they hold. The Gardai will now have the power to investigate any organisation irrespective of that organisations sense of being untouchable. The Minister's comment relating to people "turining the other way" when they are aware of wrongdoing is extremely pertinent!! This will now be a criminal offence.
    Internal investigations in the Irish Red Cross to date have been complete white washes. The Gardai will now have powers to investigate as they see fit any claims relating to white collar crimes in any organisation. Of course if such an investigation was carried out into the Irish Red Cross and no evidence is found to substantiate the various reports and claims to date, even better, then organisation can move forward. If the claims are substantiated then people will be held accountable under the law of this land, and the organisation can then move forward.
    Either way there is great hope the Irish Red Cross can move forward in a positive way. At least the trauma of recent economic events in Ireland is slowly ensuring that ALL organisations and people holding positions of responsibility will now be accountable by law for ensuring only the highest standards are maintained in relation to corporate governance and management.

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