Also Boards.ie is back commenting on the scandals at Irish Red Cross
In addition readers may be interested in the article in the Irish Independent (23rd July) once again referring to Irish Red Cross undeclared Tipperary Bank Account, the Irish Red Cross apology and admissions of "huge regret" and the role played by the Vice Chairman, Tony Lawlor. The Irish Red Cross statement refers to Lawlor's role as "clearly does not look good". Mr Lawlor's position is now surely untenable. He will unlikley resign voluntarily so it is now the responsibility of the Irish Red Cross Chairman to demand his resignation. The Secretary General has done as much as he can by allowing such statements be issued in public. Taking such steps in the Irish Red Cross amount to risking one's job. Mr. Forde is clearly prodding and poking Mr. Lawlor in his attempt to get to the truth, to force him to resign and clean up the Society. Mr. David O' Callaghan, Chairman, must now follow suit and step up to the plate. Nothing short of the Vice Chairman's resignation will be acceptable in order to allow the Irish Red Cross begin the long road to recovery. The Treasurer's resignation would also be a welcome development. It is to be noted, however, that the attempts by the Irish Red Cross to deflect some of the blame for the Vice Chairman's behaviour onto staff, staff turnover and a lack of staff is nothing short of scurrilous.
In an article (17th July 2011) in the Sunday Independent, Ireland’s biggest selling newspaper, it is claimed that the Irish Red Cross did not inform the Government in advance that it planned to appointed an ex-AIB senior banker to head up the Society. The newspaper appears to question the appropriateness of this given the fact that most of the Secretary General’s salary is in fact paid for by the Government.
It is clear from the article and information released under a Freedom of Information request that the Government wished to keep its distance from the appointment. What is not clear is whether the reason was because the Government felt it necessary to respect the independence of the Red Cross or whether the Government was and remains concerned about public reaction to tax payers money being used to pay the salary of a senior ex-AIB manager.
While not referred to in the newspaper article questions also need to be asked about the exact role of the Public Service Appointments Commission (Government Recruitment Agency) in the selection of the Secretary General. At the time (late 2010) the Irish Red Cross Chairperson inferred that the services of the Public Appointments Service Commission were being used to ensure independence and also to reduce costs. There remain, however, serious questions marks over the exact role of this supposed independent third party and why a government recruitment agency was used instead of an independent private recruitment firm, as has been normal practice for the Irish Red Cross in the past. The exact role of the Public Service Appointments Commission needs to be clarified and made public. Perhaps a Freedom of Information request will help shed light on this.
Regardless of any issues surrounding the appointment of the Secretary General or the payment of his salary from tax payer funds the fundamental issues that require drastic action at the Irish Red Cross relate primarily to senior members of the Irish Red Cross board. The removal of these individuals must be prioritised. Other issues, while important, should not distract from this objective.
It’s important to note that it has been a standard practice of the Irish Red Cross ruling elite to turn attention onto serving Secretary Generals when the heat is on and to lay the blame for the Society’s ills at their doorstep. Apart from one recent case the departures of so many Secretary Generals has been damaging for the Society. The current Secretary General must ensure that issues concerning his previous career are not used by certain board members to divert attention away from themselves. The problem is if he attempts in any way to interfere with their power and control they will immediately attack his Achilles heel. For the sake of the Irish Red Cross it can only be hoped Mr. Forde is prepared to go on the offensive against certain board members and remain on the offensive regardless of possible internal dirty tricks against him. If he shows even the slightest sign of fear or hesitation he will follow his predecessors out the front door of 16 Merrion Square never to return.
The full Sunday Independent article is available on the link below and is also printed in its entirety:
Plum job at Red Cross for banker
Despite paying grants, Minister kept in dark on ex-AIB man’s €95k-a-year role
By HARRY LEECH
Sunday July 17 2011
A spokesperson for the Department of Defence has confirmed that the Irish Red Cross did not consult with it or the then Minister for Defence over the appointment of former AIB Ireland managing director Donal Forde as general secretary of the Irish Red Cross at a salary of €95,000-a-year, most of which is paid from a government grant.
Based on documents released to the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, the first that the then Minister for Defence Eamon O Cuiv heard about the appointment was a press release from the society.
A spokesperson for the Department said: "Whilst this Department was notified, there was no requirement for any further correspondence with this Department or with the Minister."
A number of revelations regarding poor governance and weak financial controls in the Irish Red Cross have emerged in recent years.
The society was recently criticised in the Dail by the current Minister for Justice and Defence, Alan Shatter.
The Minister said that as a beneficiary of State funding, the society needed to "ensure its corporate governance standards meet what would be regarded as acceptable for an organisation of its calibre".
The Irish Red Cross has acknowledged that there have been problems in the past.
However, a spokesperson said: "A programme of substantial change and reform is under way within the society."
The Department has been at pains to distance itself from the issues within the Irish Red Cross in recent years and the appointment of Mr Forde seems to be no different.
In an email to staff, the Department's principal officer Cathal Duffy said: "Mr Forde is a former managing director of AIB (Ireland). This appointment and the process that led to it are entirely a matter for the Irish Red Cross Society and is not something that we would want to comment on."
Mr Forde was managing director of AIB in the Republic of Ireland between 2002 and 2008 and was later appointed as director of group strategy, a position he held until he stepped down in May 2009.
According to the bank, his salary was €1.3m in 2007 but this subsequently fell to €776,000 in 2008.
He has also held voluntary roles on the boards of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland and the University of Limerick Foundation, which is a registered charity.