Saturday, July 2, 2011

Irish Red Cross government funding under review amidst Ministerial concerns over board members length of service

The debate in Ireland’s parliament (Dail Eireann) on 29th June 2011 concerning the Irish Red Cross has revealed the extent of the Irish Government’s frustration with Irish Red Cross intransigence, obstinacy and inflexibility with regard to reform of its antiquated and outdated governance structures.

The damage being done to the Society by the refusal of long serving board members to step down and resign is at this stage incalculable. Their continued display of disdain towards the government’s wishes and their egotistical refusal to accept that excessive service on a board is reflective of very poor practice is jeopardising not only the reputation of the Irish Red Cross but also its annual €1 million grant from the Department of Defence. Should the Government decide to cut the grant then everyone should be in no doubt where the blame lies.

The Minister has specifically stated in written correspondence on 16th May 2011 to the Irish Red Cross that he views it as “unhealthy for any organisation to have individuals serving at leadership level in excess of 12 years in total and in any one position for longer than six years”. In response to this correspondence the Irish Red Cross re-appointed Tony Lawlor as Vice Chairman for the 21st year in a row. Readers will judge for themselves how a senior minister can be expected to react to such an affront to his advice.

For the first time in the Dail the issue of allocating €600,000 of public money donated to the IRC intended for the Haiti Earthquake appeal to IRC’s domestic account has been highlighted. This is a very significant development. An immediate independent investigation is required in order to ensure the money is returned to the Haiti fund.

It is also noteworthy that Fianna Fail TD (MP), Dara Calleary, raised a parliamentary question on the Irish Red Cross on the 28th June 2011. It would now appear that both government and opposition TDs have serious concerns about the Society.

Below are highlights from the debate as well as the full detailed transcript. Involved were Labour TD (MP) Aoidáin O’ Riordáin and Minister for Justice, Defence and Equality, Alan Shatter.

Before outlining the detailed transcript the Blog has highlighted some key remarks made by both Deputies, as follows:

Deputy O’Riordáin:

“Concerns about misuse of power and financial irregularities in the IRC have been raised by staff, board members, media and politicians for over 20 years”

“Transparency International Ireland has called for whistleblowing legislation to include provisions allowing for criminal prosecutions to be taken against employers who take retaliatory action against whistleblowers who report the truth in good faith”

“The signatory on the aforementioned account (Tipperary), the society’s vice chairman, Tony Lawlor, was re-appointed as vice chairman in May 2011 for the 21st year in a row”

“The treasurer, Ted Noonan, who failed to investigate the matter at the time, was re-appointed in May this year to the board for the tenth year running”

“It (the IRC) broke even in 2010 only because more than €600,000 intended for Haiti was recorded as domestic income. This is a practice that has apparently gone on for years within the IRC and is morally reprehensible”

“Based on the evidence to date, all the information now in the public domain and the real concerns that exist inside and outside this House, the Minister must seriously consider withholding the annual grant of €1 million and review its donation of free property to the IRC for use as its headquarters until such time as a comprehensive independent investigation into the society takes place and is concluded”

Minister Shatter:

“The grant to be paid (to IRC) in 2012 is being considered as part of the review of departmental spending currently being undertaken”

“However, in light of the claims of maladministration within the society, I asked for assurances from the chairman of the society regarding the use to which funds that are granted annually from the Vote of the Department of Defence are put”

“I am of the view that organisations in receipt of funding from the Exchequer should publish detailed accounts that provide transparency on how such funds are used”. Note: IRC does not produce any details on how the government grant is spent.

“Such organisations should also publish their annual reports on time. It is not satisfactory that the annual reports (of the IRC) for 2009 and 2010 remain yet to be published”. Note: This Blog understands that the 2008 Annual Report has also not been published yet.

“While some progress has been made by the society in this regard, it is critical it makes further substantial progress to ensure its corporate governance structures comply with the highest standards. For instance, it is not conducive to good corporate governance that any individual should serve indefinitely on the central council, the executive committee or in the same appointment. I made a case on this through correspondence with the society”

“In correspondence with the society on 16th May 2011, I expressed the view that as a matter of principle I regarded it as unhealthy for any organisation to have individuals serving at leadership level in excess of 12 years in total and in any one position for longer than six years. With this in mind, I asked the Society whether a more comprehensive reform of the corporate governance arrangements than previously proposed might be considered”.

Serious questions must be asked of the IRC leadership as to why the Minister’s 16th May 2011 letter to the Society was not shared with Central Council members in advance of the May 28th Central Council meeting, at which at least two long serving members were re-appointed, contrary to the Minister’s wishes.

Readers of this Blog should be aware that members of the public can obtain access to the Minister’s letters to IRC and IRC’s responses by submitting a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department.

The full transcript of the Dail debate is below or available at:

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/06/29/00026.asp

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin:

I appreciate the opportunity to raise this matter.

I first refer to the commitment given in the programme for Government, which states: “We will initiate a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances.” Serious concerns and questions have been raised about alleged abuses of power, misgovernance and misuse of financial resources in the Irish Red Cross Society for over 20 years, yet the State unquestioningly gives it an annual grant of nearly €1 million. The OPW also provides the IRC with its head office at 16 Merrion Square effectively free of charge. In comparison, the budget of Irish Aid has been cut by 8% since late 2008, while the IRC has suffered no cut whatsoever.

Concerns about misuse of power and financial irregularities in the IRC have been raised by staff, board members, media and politicians for over 20 years. There was a surge in revelations in 2009 and 2010 following an intensive media campaign and the decision by Noel Wardick, former head of the international department at the IRC, to go public with his concerns. Mr. Wardick spent four years trying to have the matters addressed internally - all, unfortunately, to no avail. Mr. Wardick was fired for gross misconduct in November 2010 under the charge of breaking his confidentiality agreement. This is yet another example of an employee reporting serious concerns in good faith and in the public interest and suffering serious employer reprisal. Seven months later, Mr. Wardick remains unemployed. Transparency International Ireland has called for whistleblowing legislation to include provisions allowing for criminal prosecutions to be taken against employers who take retaliatory action against whistleblowers who report the truth in good faith. It would have been easier for Mr. Wardick to remain silent.

In the past, the Government has always taken a hands-off approach to questions raised about the integrity of IRC actions, despite appointing its chairman and 16 members of its central council and despite the presence of a Department of Defence official on the IRC governing executive committee. It appears that Governments have been happy to involve themselves in absolutely every aspect of IRC operations except those relating to governance reform, financial irregularities and abuse of power.

The Minster will be aware of the scandal regarding the undeclared Tipperary bank account which was found to have €162,000 intended for the victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami lying in it for over three years. The organisation’s vice chairman was a signatory on the account. The matter was swept under the carpet despite the resignation of the then honorary secretary in protest over the society’s failure to investigate the matter. She formally wrote to the then Minister for Defence, Deputy Willie O’Dea, and was effectively ignored. An internal investigation was carried out in late 2010 but despite the identification of major breaches of financial policy and certain actions deemed as “a threat to IRC governance”, no one was held to account or blamed. Nothing has changed. The signatory on the aforementioned account, the society’s vice chairman, Tony Lawlor, was re-appointed as vice chairman in May 2011 for the 21st year in a row. The treasurer, Ted Noonan, who failed to investigate the matter at the time, was re-appointed in May this year to the board for the tenth year running.

The IRC made substantial operating losses in 2008 and 2009. It broke even in 2010 only because more than €600,000 intended for Haiti was recorded as domestic income. This is a practice that has apparently gone on for years within the IRC and is morally reprehensible. In reality, the society made a large operational loss in 2010, yet it still managed to pay its secretary general €165,000 and spend €140,000 on legal fees in trying to silence Mr. Wardick, including legal suits against Google and UPC.

Any independent examination of media reports, industrial relations hearings and parliamentary questions over the past 20 years will bear out the fact that the IRC is a highly dysfunctional organisation with real and serious questions to answer about its financial affairs. Since 2007, the IRC has had four secretaries general, which is a clear sign of the problems that remain unresolved in the society.

The so-called new IRC constitution is also deeply flawed and is designed to ensure those in power remain in power for many years to come. I believe there was minimal organisation-wide consultation on its drafting and it must not be approved by the Government or enshrined in legislation without significant amendment. The Minister has said he is in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General with regard to the legal review, as outlined in the programme for Government. There is a real worry that the Minister will use the new legislation to enshrine the new IRC constitution into law, which will in effect secure the power bases of the long-serving, discredited incumbents, which is exactly what they are hoping for.

The IRC is not obliged to report separately, in financial or narrative form, on its €1 million Government grant. It appears as a one-line income and expenditure item in its audited accounts. The Government basically gives the grant annually to the IRC and thereafter washes its hands of its responsibilities. Based on the evidence to date, all the information now in the public domain and the real concerns that exist inside and outside this House, the Minister must seriously consider withholding the annual grant of €1 million and review its donation of free property to the IRC for use as its headquarters until such time as a comprehensive independent investigation into the society takes place and is concluded.

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter):

I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter.

As the Deputy mentioned, the Irish Red Cross Society is the recipient of an annual grant-in-aid allocated from the Department of Defence Vote. The following are details of the grants paid to the society from the Defence Vote over the past ten years. In 2002 the grant was €809,000; in 2003 it was €821,000; in 2004 it was €866,000; in 2005 it was €880,000; in 2006 it increased to €951,000, and up to and including this year it has remained at that level. The grant to be paid in 2012 is being considered as part of the review of departmental spending currently being undertaken.

The grant from the Defence Vote is paid to the society each year in quarterly amounts and includes a sum of €130,000 which represents the Government’s annual contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The balance of the grant goes towards the salary and administration costs of running the headquarters of the Irish society. In addition, the society also pays, from its own resources, an affiliation fee to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which this year is expected to amount to approximately €160,000. Each year, the society publishes its independently audited annual accounts and nothing has come to light to indicate that the grant-in-aid has not been properly expended.

As the society is a body corporate which, in accordance with the legislation, is responsible for the handling of its own internal affairs, it is not a matter for my Department to be involved in the day-to-day running of the society. However, in light of the claims of maladministration within the society, I asked for assurances from the chairman of the society regarding the use to which the funds that are granted annually from the Vote of the Department of Defence are put. Comprehensive and satisfactory answers have been provided by the chairman, which showed that the total cost of running the head office of the society in 2010 amounted to just under €1.3 million.

I am of the view that organisations in receipt of funding from the Exchequer should publish detailed accounts that provide transparency on how such funds are used.

Such organisations should also publish their annual reports on time. It is not satisfactory that the annual reports for 2009 and 2010 remain yet to be published.

The programme for Government provides for the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in light of changing circumstances. Proposals for reform of the governance of the Irish Red Cross Society initially arose from a resolution that was passed in November 2007 by the council of delegates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It urged all national societies to examine and update their statutes, rules and related legal texts by 2010.
A working group to propose changes in the governance of the Irish society was established by the Irish Red Cross in 2008. Its chairman presented the findings, which included changes recommended by the international federation, to the central council of the Irish Red Cross Society at a meeting held in November 2009. The working group’s report was then submitted to the Department of Defence early last year.

Following the Department’s review of these proposals and the related legislation, a draft order that would amend the Irish Red Cross ministerial order 1939 was submitted to the Office of the Attorney General. The 1939 order sets out the basis upon which the society is governed and was made pursuant to the Red Cross Act 1938. Discussions with the Office of the Attorney General on the extent of changes that can be made to the 1939 order are continuing. Whatever changes are made to it, a comprehensive review of all Red Cross legislation, and in particular the primary legislation, will then be commenced by my Department.

In this regard, while I am conscious of the importance attaching to the independence of the society, I have been in contact with the chairman of the Irish Red Cross recently about the society’s corporate governance arrangements. On 8 June 2011, he advised me that work is well under way with regard to corporate governance changes. Initiatives introduced have included statement of directors’ roles, responsibilities and accountabilities; a signed code of conduct for directors and management; a strategic planning framework; a register of organisational risks; an induction process for new directors; the establishment of an independent audit committee with external participation; performance evaluation for senior management and plans for board evaluation; a statement of fund-raising principles and behavioural code; and analysis and reporting of non-compliant branch financial returns. Work is well advanced in drafting financial policies relating to reserves management, borrowing capital expenditure, procurement and investment.

While some progress has been made by the society in this regard, it is crucial it makes further substantial progress to ensure its corporate governance structures comply with the highest standards. For instance, it is not conducive to good corporate governance that any individual should serve indefinitely on the central council, the executive committee or in the same appointment. I made a case on this through correspondence to the society. As a beneficiary of State funding, both directly and indirectly, I have urged the society to make further substantial progress in this area to ensure its corporate governance standards meet what would be regarded as acceptable for an organisation of its calibre.

In correspondence with the society on 16 May 2011, I expressed the view that as a matter of principle I regarded it as unhealthy for any organisation to have individuals serving at leadership level in excess of 12 years in total and in any one position for longer than six years. With this in mind, I asked the society whether a more comprehensive reform of the corporate governance arrangements than previously proposed might be considered. The chairman, in response, explained the society is making progress in developing a much more robust corporate governance system.

The issue of turnover and rotation at leadership levels was raised at the recent central council meeting. The chairman informed me agreement was reached on a mandatory three-year break or one full-term break for executive committee members in circumstances where a member may have previously served for two full terms. This agreement occurred subsequent to correspondence with the society in which I engaged.

I have arranged to meet with the chairman of the society presently. An overriding principle must be to ensure that any legislative changes made have the full support of the international federation and that the society’s management framework requires the full and required standards acceptable in the 21st century.
ENDS

20 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:55 AM

    Reposting this comment from previous article-NW

    The Irish Red Cross no longer has an influential voice, it has lost all of its credibility as an NGO. The Government and other bodies know it is a basket case. However, at local level the membership who are almost only involved in First Aid are in a daze. They will do anything to protect their own little empires as no other organisation would facilitate them or tolerate their incompetance.

    If one looks at the membership who are in control, almost all of them have remained in the same positions for decades. This is an organisation that needs to be closed for business and re opened with all new structures and new committed members. But not committed to self promotion but to the ideals of the Red Cross.

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  2. Anonymous5:00 AM

    Reposting this comment from previous article-NW

    The lack of confidence by government in the IRC is a serious issue and threatens the special auxiliary role that it has as part of its legal mandate in responding to humanitarian needs both within and outside the country.

    Both domestic and international law applies to IRC as does the the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

    The IRC has that unique humanitarian position which sets it apart from other charities and aid agencies and it should demonstrate its operational capacity to deserve the role as agreed with government.

    As a respected operator it would expect to be actively working in coordination with government to supplement such auxiliary services as in; disaster preparedness and relief response, first aid training and provision, dissemination of International Humanitarian Law (with military, colleges and press etc), migration and protection.

    The auxiliary role of the IRC will continue to be threatened if it does not develop or retain its capacity to meet its auxiliary obligations and if it does not command the mutual trust and respect of government.

    IRC would be expected to have an influential voice in advocacy for improved effectiveness and efficiency of government aid.

    Is it too much to expect IRC to change course now so that its important and privileged national and international role is not put at risk?

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  3. Anonymous6:36 AM

    I have been treated with nothing but contempt by the leadership of the Irish Red Cross, yet I have continued forward with the conviction that truth will win over corruption. I have continually brought to the attention of my local Area Committee, Executive Committee and Central Council, that in the last thirty years there have been individuals within the management of the Red Cross who have rigged minutes to facilitate the hiding of matters of concern, conspired to retain money from Appeals for the purpose of gaining interest and hid money for purposes which one can only speculate on.

    I have written of these concerns to the current Chairman who has not even had the decency to reply or acknowledge receipt. Then again it was this Chairman who acted as Secretary General of the Dept. of Defence when these same issues were raised many years ago. Nothing happened then either.

    We will hopefully see the end to this regime of incompetence and not only that but those responsible brought before the courts to address why they have acted to hide money meant for the victims of disasters and also remove money from the Haiti Appeal to finance activities which did not benefit the victims of the Haiti disaster.

    Mr Lawlor, Ms Callan and a Col. Clune were appointed many years ago by the Executive to investigate claims of financial irregularities by the Overseas Committee of the time. Let us see their findings and this might explain why 162k was found in an Account in Tipperary.

    Sincerely Yours

    Gerard Moyne
    Life member Irish Red Cross

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  4. Anonymous4:57 AM

    The Sunday Times of 3rd July 2011 carries an article on Page 6 with the headline:

    "Shatter criticises Irish Red Cross Board ahead of review"

    The article makes reference to Tony Lawlor and Ted Noonan and excessive length of service. It also raises, for the first time in the media, the issue of Irish Red Cross' undeclared property portfolio reputed to be worth €7 million and Irish Red Cross breach of Standard Accounting Practice.

    The full Sunday Times article will be on the Blog in due course.

    Noel Wardick

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  5. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Every Area Committee and Branch were written to in 1992 regarding disclosure of properties. These requests should be on file if the system worked.

    Why has the Executive Committee failed to provide this information asked for almost 20 years ago. There is a very good reason why in the last 20 years and longer the Auditors have not been provided with details. Where did the 800k from the sale of 50 Merrion road go? It may be like the Tipperary money, resting in an account somewhere. It certainly was not spent as it was supposed to have been according to the records of the Society. They said it was going to be used to buy a more suitable property for refugees. Pigs also fly.

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  6. Anonymous2:07 AM

    I have read the last two Blog articles and the Sunday Times article (3/7/11). I even saw the Examiner article last week. My god is all I can say! The Irish Red Cross is such a disgrace words fail me. The Society has become a national shame and I assume it is now disgraced within the International Red Cross Movement as well.

    Imagine that the Society is so bad that a Minister has to write to them (16th May 2011) requesting board members with long service step down. Thats bad enough in the first place. What is shocking is that IRC ignored the Minister. Gave him the two fingers. This to the man that gives the IRC €951,000 per annum and a free building for their head office. The arrogance of IRC makes me sick. Its up there with our disgraced bankers and disgraced Fianna Fail politicians.

    The only people it appears who dont realise how low Irish Red Cross has sunk is its board members on Central Council and the Executive Committee. Each and every one of them should hang their heads in shame.

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  7. Anonymous2:16 AM

    I am an Irish Red Cross member committed to the organisation but I am sick with disgust over our board members and their behaviour. A failure of leadership across the board. We have a new Secretary General and a new Chairman and things remain exactly the same as before if not worse. Never before have we refused a request from a Minister. A huge insult if ever there was. We can be certain Irish Red Cross will be punished for that.

    Its all so predicable. I have seen nine secretary generals come and go and lots of Chairmen. We are in another cycle and it is a mirror image of all the previous ones. Not one thing is different, same promises of change and reform. Heard it all before. Now its worse as our very dirty laundry is all over the media, the Dail and the public. And still people are afraid to remove the people responsible. What cowards! Force these people out and this 20 year nightmare will begin to end. Everything else is spin and fluff and noone believes it.

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  8. Anonymous2:19 AM

    A thundering disgrace. Resign, resign, resign. You have failed this great Society. Resign, resign, resign!

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  9. Anonymous3:21 AM

    I saw the Irish Red Cross press release following the debate in the Dail. At least they had the decency to admit there has been poor governance and financial problems even though the people responsible are still in the Society.

    It does beg the question if IRC is admitting these failings then why did they fire Noel Wardick who brought all the matters to light and without whom no change or progress would be taking place. IRC has in effect admitted to firing Wardick for telling the truth. I cant wait for his court case to see what nonsensical argument the Society and their expensive barristers put forward for firing a man that tells the truth and nothing but the truth.

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  10. Anonymous4:13 AM

    In that press release issued by Irish Red Cross after the Dail debate last week Donal Forde, Secretary General, issued a blanket denial that over €600,000 of money intended for Haiti was used for domestic purposes. Those that know the Irish Red Cross know full well this practice has gone on for years and years.

    It is a fact that over €600,000 of money donated by the Irish public intended by them to go to the Haiti appeal was allocated to cover domestic expenditure. Mr. Forde was not employed when this happened yet he is issuing blanket denials. He is taking the gravest of personal and professional risks in doing so.

    Any independent investigation into Irish Red Cross overseas appeals will show a corresponding spike in income allocated to domestic purposes. Income that was collected on the back of an overseas disaster appeal being allocated to cover domestic expenses. When an independent investigation into this takes place Mr. Forde will find his denials are false and then he will finally understand when its too late he has been given false and misleading information by the very people who surround him.

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  11. will the Truth ever be told on this Blog

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  12. We will people start to consider what this is going to the members.

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  13. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Dear Mr Forde, This is not AIB, you might think that all you have to do is allow the current Board to stay were they are, but when you launch your new image of the Society, the background will be the old one so the shallow image wont last unless you remove those you know have to be removed. We the members who care are not going away, we have been campaigning for reform for lots of years and will continue to do so until the problems are addressed.

    You might say "What can I do?", well, its easy call a National Conference and let us deal with the issues properly and openly. Let the current Board stand before the members and justify their acts and for some their inaction.... They won't want to do this and will resist you tooth and nail if you suggest a National Conference. This in itself should ring alarms bells. Dont let them pretend to you its a cost issue. What a joke! They spent €140,000 on failed legal actions in 2010. Let Noel Wardick give his story to the memebrship that will soon cool them down. Horwell and others will have many questions to answer. He was quick to put your name up on his facebook page before your appointment was officially announced, will he tell the membership why he found Wardick guilty and sacked him? If you want to be CEO then brave and courageous decisions need to be taken by you. Otherwise you will just be percevied as 'one of them' and I cant think of a more horrifying and damaging description for anyone.

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  14. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Ann Murphy the Honorary Secretary of the Red Cross has suggested Noel Wardick to become a member of an Irish Red Cross First Aid Unit, presumably Dublin Borough given where he lives. This is either good or bad and I'm not sure if he will be as excited as some at this challenge. Take up the offer Noel it could be worse you might even win the Sheila Callan Humanitarian Award. Good on you Ms Murphy at least someone is reaching out the hand of kindness to Noel after Irish Red Cross disgracefully fired him.

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  15. Anonymous2:04 AM

    With all that is going on in the IRC its amazing to see all the hard work the volunteers on the ground are doing. I was at the tall shis and the Red Cross looked very professional and well turned out with well maintained vehicles and guys going around with EMT badges. Hard to understand how the IRC according to the blog is nearly gone but on the ground the work goes on!!! I wonder if the good work that is going on in all our communities is helping the Red Cross when it comes to the various overseas appeals.

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  16. Anonymous2:07 PM

    "We the members who care are not going away, we have been campaigning for reform for lots of years and will continue to do so until the problems are addressed"

    What a load of nonsense, it is the members that vote these egomaniacs in term after term. What campaigning have the members done, bitched about the board among themselves and then cowered in their presence.
    Poster you need to check your facts and you will realise that it is not a CEO who can sack a board member.

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  17. Anonymous2:11 PM

    To The Honest Truth -
    This is one of the few places where truth relating to Irish Red Cross can be found and what it is doing to the members is educating them, whether they like it or not.

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  18. Anonymous12:44 AM

    Dear Members,

    In February 2011 I as a member was removed wrongly from a meeting in Donegal. The Chairperson of that meeting said the rules demanded that I leave. I did so, but protested that this was wrong.

    The Chairperson asked Head Office for a ruling on my expulsion. On the 9th May 2011 I was asked to attend a meeting of the Area Committee. At this meeting the Chairperson read out a letter the contents of which was said to have come from Mr Anthony Lawlor(Vice Chair of the Society) this letter quoted rule 32 as being the justification for my expulsion.

    This information was flawed. I received no apology and no proper justification.
    The truth is that the Red Cross once again comes out fighting if it cannot beat you with threats and rules it will make ones up to suit.

    I have asked the new Secretary General for a copy of this letter and have been refused. I have asked the Chairperson in Donegal and have been refused. I have asked the Area Secretary, she doesn't have a copy.

    The truth is once again we are in a very sad place. If you don't want to hear the truth about financial irregularities and the hiding of money etc. kick the messenger out of the meeting so that you don't have to hear. If you don't hear you don't have to act.

    I made allegations at the meeting on the 9th of May, not a single request for more details.... this is the truth !

    Gerard Moyne
    Life Member Irish Red Cross

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  19. Anonymous5:03 AM

    Regarding the previous post:
    "With all that is going on in the IRC its amazing to see all the hard work the volunteers on the ground are doing. I was at the tall shis and the Red Cross looked very professional and well turned out with well maintained vehicles and guys going around with EMT badges. Hard to understand how the IRC according to the blog is nearly gone but on the ground the work goes on!!! I wonder if the good work that is going on in all our communities is helping the Red Cross when it comes to the various overseas appeals",

    The purpose of this blog (as I read it) and the actions that Noel Wardick took (again as I read them) is not to criticise the groundwork that goes on and continues to go. It is that very groundwork that forms the core of the Red Cross Movement, whether that groundwork is at a tall ship race in Waterford or in the horn of Africa where 1000's face imminent starvation. This is what Noel and others are fighting to save. Surely we as a nation have learnt that any organisation, bank, a nation even, needs a rock solid foundation - that foundation is a structure of corporate governance which is 100% robust, transparent and in absolutely every action it takes in line with its corporate aims. The Irish Red Cross' corporate aims are the fundamental principles of the Red Cross Movement. This seems to have been lost on the current Executive Committee.
    Yes - nice 4x4 Red Cross vehicles, lots of ambulances, spotless uniforms all create a professional image of the Irish Red Cross. However think back to 2000 up to 2007, alot of us had BMWs, 4x4s big houses (or at least houses with big mortgages), holiday homes, 2 holidays a year, meals out on a whim. We were promised by those in power that Ireland had reached the top, we were invincible, we cracked the secret to economic success, don't listen to the naysayers - they're all just disgruntled is what we were told - get down to your friendly bank and borrow more money..........

    We as a nation will for many many many years be held up as an example of how a nation's hopes and dreams can be built on a house of cards, and if the people are bombarbded enough with propaganda they will come to believe that that house of cards is in fact as strong as steel and concrete. Unfortunately that house of cards crumbled in the end.

    It is not easy or nice to be proud of an organisation and to see and hear constant criticism of it. I only hope those members and volunteers who may be frustrated with this criticism understand that uniforms, ambulances, 4x4s are not enough to ensure that the Irish Red Cross is founded on a rock solid corporate governance structure.

    As it stands now the Irish Red Cross is on a house of cards.....It is the sentiments expressed on this blog and the actions of Noel and many others who have sacrificed so much that will save the Irish Red Cross. It is so worth saving.

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  20. Anonymous7:10 AM

    What is this doing to the members ?

    Perhaps the next time you ask this. You might reflect on the victims of the Tsunami, Hungry, Homeless, Sad, Depressed, Cold, Wet, lonely etc. Then ask yourself what was Tony Lawlor thinking and how did he feel when he decided to hide money from these people.

    Then ask yourself why did Horwell, Noonan, Callan and Murphy amongst others make a decision to sack Noel Wardick for trying to expose this wrong.

    Tell me that ! I will leave you in peace if you can explain why you sat back and agreed to this. Tell me how you feel in your bright Red Uniform knowing that it may have been funded using money taken from the people of Haiti.
    The confortable vehicle you sit in is something the people of Haiti are dying for.

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