Thursday, July 21, 2011

Irish Government attempts to distance itself from appointment of ex-senior banker to head up Irish Red Cross-according to Sunday Independent

Note: On a separate matter there were more Parliamentary Questions raised in Dail Eireann (Ireland's parliament) about the Irish Red Cross on 20th July 2011. Suggestions were made that the Irish Red Cross be called before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality to answer questions on all the problems it continues to have. In addition Minister Shatter stated that substantial reform of the Irish Red Cross is still required. The link to the questions is:

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/07/20/00200.asp

Also Boards.ie is back commenting on the scandals at Irish Red Cross


http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=73425481



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.


http://www.independent.ie/national-news/red-cross-says-sorry-for-euro163000-tsunami-cash-error-2829467.html





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:

http://www.independent.ie/nati​onal-news/plum-job-at-red-cros​s-for-banker-2823674.html

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.
ENDS

20 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:14 AM

    How many nails can one put into a coffin? It is interesting that this week there is a Global Appeal for Somalia, the Irish Red Cross nailed poor Martin Good former Sec. Gen. well with that one. They tried stopping a member talking to the press about the invlovement of certain or even perhaps current members involvement in hiding the Somalian money away for a rainey day.

    I would appeal to anyone give your money to the Red Cross just don't let the Irish Red Cross get their hands on it . Send it direct to the International Federation in Geneva you can be 100% assured that it will be used in Somalia and you won't need to ask for your money back in 6 months.

    When will the Governement ask for a formal investigation into the last Appeal for Haiti which still has yet to be accounted for.

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  2. Anonymous1:15 AM

    How thick do you need to be to realise that this organisation is a mess!

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  3. Anonymous2:43 PM

    Unsubstantiated personal attacks and innuendo on individuals by anonymous posters will not be published. The blog is about the truth and facts.

    NW

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  4. Anonymous3:22 PM

    The great thing about having and knowing the truth is that you can generally prove that you are correct. The truth about the Irish Red Cross is not unlike the truth about the Catholic Church and it probably took just as long to open the same can of worms.
    Whilst being committed to the ideals of the Red Cross is commendable, knowing and approving the actions of the people who run the Red Cross is unforgivable.

    Being a Catholic is all very well, but not condemning the brutality and torture of our children is obscene to say the least.

    Will Alan Shatter come out with a speech which reflects the actual goings on within the Irish Red Cross? Will he ask for an investigation into the Red Cross accounts during the Haiti Appeal? Will he ask for an investigation into the appointment of the Secretary General or will he do as the current Management wish.

    We are not going away you know!

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  5. Anonymous7:23 AM

    That correspondence sent by the Irish Red Cross Head of Fundraising to members of local branches is a disgrace. Thankfully someone posted it as a comment on this blog in the previous article for us all to see. In it the Head of Fundraising actually makes a joke about the Tipperary Bank account scandal. He should be ashamed of himself. The Irish public were betrayed by officers of the Tipperary branch including the present Vice Chairman of the organisation. The money was only returned when they were caught. The Head of Fundraising thinks this is something to make light of. Why doesnt he show some real courage and demand the resignation of the Vice Chairman and stop with his spin. The best thing that could happen for the reputation of the Irish Red Cross and for its future fundraising activities is that the Vice Chairman and the Treasurer resign. Forget sending ridiculous embarrassing emails and letters to donors. It just makes the matter worse because everyone knows the people responsible for all the wrongs of the IRC are still in place. Because of this all the emails and letters to donors are seen as crass PR and spin. So do your job and ensure IRC can start fundraising again with its head held high. Demand the resignation of those who have near killed the reputation of the Society. That would be something beneficial and useful for the IRC not shameful cringe worthy spin. Defending their actions with your ridiculous and false Q&As just brings disgrace on yourself and whoever authorised you to write such rubbish.

    As for the You-Tube video with the ex banker. Jesus this is what the IRC is doing when all other aid agencies are responding to Somalia. Ahhhh!!!! God the shame!

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  6. Anonymous7:40 AM

    I watched Prime Time last night as it covered the crisis in Somalia. At the end of the program RTE gave out the phone numbers of 3 aid agencies Concern, Trocaire and Oxfam Ireland. All very reputable organisations doing great work in Somalia and East Africa.

    Once again Irish Red Cross nowhere to be seen. To busy writing those stupid Q&As and making self absorbed narcissistic You-Tube videos about themselves.

    Cop on. Clean out your Board and bring in a brand new senior management team. Start afresh otherwise you continue to be the laughing stock of the Irish charity sector

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  7. Anonymous9:51 AM

    Dear Mr Forde,

    I appreciate that you are most likely an honest man, do the honest thing now, get you tail out of the Irish Red Cross. You think the tarnish of AIB and your performance there was bad. The You Tube video really takes the biscuit. This is just more than a person can bear. Asking the Irish people for more money so that that the 4 x 4's can be replaced for new ones in a few years. Get a grip.

    Leave now and do your own character a favour, you were brought in to take the heat off Noonan and Lawlor and guess what it's working. As for Ronan and the crazy email, well, Ronan all I can say to that is "your a dreamer".

    The Irish Red Cross are now on the slippery slide to obliteration and the more you let the dreamers defend its integrity the worse it gets.

    Of course the fact that Noel Wardick has been proved 100% right appears to be forgotten in all this. If he was right as Donal Forde says, why is he still unemployed. I know why, Tony Lawlor does not know the meaning of "wrong" if he did he would have not been involved in the hiding of the Tsunami money and then had the balls to look for re appointment to the CC.

    As for Noonan well all you have to do is read his wee message not so long ago to the members.

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  8. Anonymous10:18 AM

    What was Noonans message to the members, I must have missed that one

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  9. Anonymous11:25 AM

    The attempt by the Irish Red Cross in todays Independent, to lay a fragment of blame on staff is nothing more than the lowest attempt yet to take the heat from the real culprits.

    How can they suggest it is a staff problem that was justification behind Lawlor hiding 162K. If Merrion Square had five thousand staff what could they do with someone who fails to make financial retruns for years, as was the case in Tipperary and also failed to let anyone know they had hid away 162k. Of course it's easy to forget such things.

    This guy is the Vice Chairman of the Society and has been on the board for 21 years and they dare to say that staff are to blame for him not knowing what is right or wrong.

    Another thing, all Branches in the Counrty are made up of volunteers, their are no staff. So what are they on about having more staff out on the ground, THEY NEVER HAD ANY !

    How much bull can they produce to protect Lawlor and Noonan. Blaming the staff is the lowest they have gone to so far. If I was a staff member and being blamed for hiding money I would certainly be seeking legal advice.

    So they are now admitting also that they took 600k out of the Haiti Appeal also its just a case of being a mistake. A nice benificial mistake. What tripe! Unatributable donations. It's six hundred thousand euro were talking about, that is one hell of a misunderstanding. The biggest mistake is the people of Irelnd giving the Red Cross the money in good faith.

    Over the last 20 years there appears to be a chain of these mistakes, Armenia, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tsunami and Haiti and 7 million worth of properties. There is a common denominator guess who?

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  10. Anonymous1:50 AM

    RED CROSS SAYS SORRY OR 163K Tsunami CASH ERROR.
    Irish Independent Page 21 Sat. 23rd July.

    Note: Anthony Lawlor Vice Chairman does not !

    The Red Cross said this was an ‘accident waiting to happen’. How can something be an accident when you have been found wanting in financial irregularities for over 20 years, surely the Walsh v Red Cross case highlighted this for them? The Judges in the Supreme Court didn't even need to hear from the REd Cross, before convicting them. This case was about retention of money for overseas appeals. So when exactly did this accident begin?

    Inadequate staff at local level, what hogwash, there have never been staff at local level. So blaming something that does not exist is a new diversion.
    Turnover of staff at HQ again hogwash was the reason they suggest. Blaming staff for a few individuals in the Tipperary Branch hiding 162k, despicable to make such an unfounded allegation.
    No monies went missing. Not correct 162k went missing for three years. There was money taken out of this account and then mysteriously put back in again, no answers given as to who did this?

    More robust system were put in 2007, is this why Noel Wardick had to take his case to the World?

    The Red Cross promised publicly they had appointed and external firm of financial investigators, but reeled back when they discovered the implication of such an audit. As for "nothing to gain". Well, I wonder if Bernard Madeoff could have used that line.

    "Clearly does not look good" straight from the mouth of a Senior Banker. if it looks like a boat it doesn't necessarily mean that it is a boat.

    This is not a resigning offence it's a sacking offence as Mr Forde should be more than familiar with in his previous role with AIB. Or did they promote people in AIB for hiding money as the Red Cross did with Mr Lawlor in Tipperary.

    Now we have the 600k admission another misunderstanding , which just fortunately enough gained the Irish Red Cross 600k due to a new line "Unattributable donations", or in common language. If you did not absolutely say the cheque or money was for Haiti they pulled a fast on you, and put it into the General fund. So the next time you see a fancy 4 x 4 you will be glad to know your Haiti donation bought it.

    When this is all over as it will someday end, all we can hope for is that the scourge this bunch are bringing on the Red Cross may be forgiven. In the interim I note their total failure to launch an Appeal for Somalia, then again who would trust them?
    I certainly would not. Making crass “You Tube videos” does not help.

    Again daring to blame staff for what Anthony Lawlor did is a new low.

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  11. Anonymous12:47 PM

    Geat letter in the Indo. Yet another nail in the box. What happens now that the Red Cross has apologised?

    Will they say sorry to Noel Wardick for being right all along?

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  12. Anonymous12:57 PM

    A 'Letter to Editor' appeared in the Sunday Independent (24th July 2011) on the never ending problems and scandals at the Irish Red Cross. The letter appears on Page 31. The author, a Mr. Myles Duffy, makes some very interesting and valid points.

    NW

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  13. Anonymous12:53 AM

    This Blog is not unlike the Supreme Court Appeal by the Red Cross against the judgement in the High Court. Walsh v Irish Red Cross.

    The weight of evidence is so heavy that there is actually no need to either hear more or read any further evidence from the Irish Red Cross.

    Minister Shatter this is just another FF scandal which this Government needs to clean up !

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  14. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Head of Fundraising and Secretary General you both should hang your heads in shame trying to blame finance staff on the Tipperary bank scandal and fundraising staff on the Haiti fund. Spineless, so spineless. You are both too afraid to tackle the individuals responsible. Courage is required in times of trouble not cowardice.

    Finance and Fundraising staff had NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING to do with any of the scandals and financial irregularities at the Irish Red Cross. The Tipperary bank scandal rests square at the feet of the Vice Chairman and the Haiti money scandal rest with the Secretary General at the time and the current Executive Committee.

    You people disgust me. Trying to blame staff that are no longer employed by the organisation when the guilty are still there in very senior positions. You are so like the Catholic Church Hierarchy it is scary, very scary. And you are held in the same high regard they are.

    How much of the Somalia money you are receiving is going into the Irish Red Cross domestic fund to pay for your legal bills and first aid uniforms in Ireland? As usual you are probably rubbing your hands with glee knowing that poor innocent members of the public give you money for Somalia but forget to write the words 'For Somalia' on their donation and once they do that you jump for joy and put the money into the domestic account where no one in Somalia will ever see one penny of it.

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  15. Anonymous9:22 AM

    What cowards! Shameful behavior. Trying to blame staff for disgraceful wrongdoing by Irish Red Cross board members! If this is what your so-called 'new senior management' team is about then the Irish Red Cross is even worse off now than it was in the past. And thats saying something!

    What nonsense with your spin and PR stunt apologising to the Irish public and gimic of a money back guarantee. Its not washing up powder you are selling.

    Its not apologies the public want its accountability and real action. Irish Red Cross reelected the Vice Chairman and Treasurer in May. That makes your apology a joke, meaningless. Its an insult to the Irish public.

    Now that you have admitted to all these terrible mistakes, errors and poor governance then how can you accept and endorse the appointment of the same people responsible for all this? What weakness on your part.

    If you are apologising to the general public why havent you got the courage to apologise to the person who told the truth and who Irish Red Cross fired for telling the truth, Noel Wardick? Why havent you apologised to him and do it publicly? Because you have not got the moral courage or backbone to do so. Because you are scared of Lawlor and co and you know full well you would lose your jobs if you did the decent and right thing. So out of fear you dont to the right and decent thing and people like that should never be allowed to be a senior manager in the Irish Red Cross. Your meekness defines you. Deep down you know you are afraid and that is an awful feeling, knowing you are not brave enough to do the right thing. A horrible realisation and no amount of trying to deny it will help the unease go away but it seems you people can live with it. But thats because you are weak.

    Its because you people stood by and did nothing when Lawlor and Noonan and their merry bunch got reappointed in May and because you refuse to apologise to Noel Wardick and give him his job back that the Irish public know there is no substance to your apology and that your recent PR campign is nothing more than shallow skin deep spin. A foolish and badly thought out stunt that everyone sees through.

    There is nothing worse in life than been cowardly and you guys appear to have it in bucket loads. Lawlor and co are safe for a long time with you people in office. Of course thats why you are there in the first place.

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  16. Anonymous7:54 AM

    Dear Fundraising Manager,

    You forgot a few very important Questions in that PR stunt of yours but they are ones you cant put spin on so you ignored them because you know Irish Red Cross is in real trouble on this one.

    Here are the Questions:

    Q: Where is the Irish Red Cross undeclared secret property porfolio which is valued at €7 million?

    Q: Who is using these properties and why is Irish Red Cross not getting any rent/income from them? What exactly do Board members know about these properties? What is their exact involvement with these properties?

    Q: €7m worth of properties could mean anything between 20-40 properties which Irish Red Cross has failed to declare in its accounts and the wherabouts of which remains a mystery. Why is this?

    Q: Every year for at least the last 3 years the external auditors of IRC has stated in writing in the auditied accounts that Irish Red Cross is violating Standard Accounting Practice regarding its failure to declare the existence of its extensive property portfolio. Given that Irish Red Cross cant account for €7 million worth of property which were donations from the general public (people who died and left the properties to IRC) how do you expect anybody to believe you will not misuse their fiver or tenner donation?

    Q: The external auditors have stated categorically in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that IRC failed to declare this €7 million in its accounts as INCOME and as fixed assets on its balance sheet in violation of Standard Accounting Practice. Thats €7 million income Irish Red Cross failed to declare. That is a FACT! Its so important it needs repeating. IRC FAILED TO DECLARE €7 MILLION INCOME. €7 million!!Why is that exactly?

    Q: When is someone going to ask the Garda Fraud Bureau to go into Irish Red Cross and investigate it from head to toe? Surely €7 million in undeclared income and assets is good enough reason to at least have the Gardai investigate the situation?

    So Fundraising Manager, this is very serious business and you need to be careful you dont get yourself dragged into something that could land you in very very real trouble. If I were you I'd stop defending the indefensible and start talking to the Gardai and your solicitor for advice.

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  17. Anonymous9:37 AM

    €7 million in undeclared income!!! Are you serious? €7 million in undeclared assets??!!

    Secretary General, call in the police today. Let them investigate and decide if criminal prosecutions are warranted. This has not gone too far.

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  18. Anonymous5:04 AM

    The Gardai should be called in straight away. 7 million Euros in undeclared assets and income is a monumental scandal. The external auditors have said Irish Red Cross is breaching international financial procedures. The police should be brought in to investigate and no board member should be involved apart from being questioned by the police. Only the police can end this once and for all.

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  19. Anonymous11:08 AM

    A comment taken from www.boards.ie :

    Calls for the Gardai


    There have been a number of calls on the Irish Red Cross Governance Reform Blog to have the Gardai investigate the Society. Without a doubt an external, fully independent investigation is warranted.
    The reasons for such an investigation are well and truly documented at this stage. It would certainly appear a Garda investigation into wrongdoing may also be warranted. Apart from the "Father Ted" style money "resting in a Tipperary bank account" (unaccounted for for 4 years) another extremely suspicious practice is the Irish Red Cross refusing to account for the numerous properties left as donations to the Society by people in their wills. These properties are not accounted for in the society's accounts as either assets or income. Figures of a 7 million euro property portfolio have been suggested, obviously drastically reduced in value now. The society's auditors have repeatedly flagged this practice as contrary to standard accounting practices.
    Now as most of these properties are most likely to be houses, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to say that they were either sold or are rented. So where are the proceeds of the sales? or who is benefitting from the rental income? There is absolutely no record of these properties in the society's accounts!! The Red Cross may be using these properties for other purposes that do not generate income but irrespective they must be recorded as assets.
    For a donor to leave their property to the Irish Red Cross in their will is an enormous act of generosity. As usual the Irish Red Cross behaves in such a contemptible manner that no record of that good will exists anywhere nor is it recognised, certainly not openly. In the complete lack of transparency one can only assume that these properties are not being used in the manner the donors intended, ie for the benefit of the society and the communities they serve, but rather alternative gains are being scrupulously achieved from the properties for others.
    Based on the deplorable track record of the Irish Red Cross to date it is very difficult not to assume the worst. I hope I am mistaken, but maybe only a Garda investigation can really get to the bottom of this.
    As I understand it the Gardai can only investigate a complaint, so I suppose a complaint needs to be made in the first instance.....

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  20. Anonymous6:58 AM

    As for the Secretary General calling in the cops, remember it was not so long ago he was the boss in AIB. Kind of ironic really !

    He may have to give evidence in future casees himself with his previous employers. That will be an interesting headline!

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