Sunday, January 1, 2012

Irish Red Cross ends 2011 back in media spotlight for all the wrong reasons

The Irish Red Cross concluded 2011 just as it had started it, in the national media for all the wrong reasons.

On the 25th December 2011 the Sunday Independent, Ireland’s largest selling newspaper, in its Christmas Day edition carried a large and detailed article on the ongoing financial irregularities and misgovernance at the Society. The article demonstrated the extent of the financial inadequacies as well as reporting on Minister Alan Shatter’s displeasure at the long board service of a number of Irish Red Cross members.

In his end of year report to the Central Council the Irish Red Cross Chairman, David O’Callaghan, attempted to blame everybody including politicians, former staff, current and former members and volunteers as well as the media for the woes of the Society. This staggering display of delusion would appear to have been rewarded by the Sunday Independent with another well written article outlining the litany of problems the Society has encountered in recent years. The Sunday Independent informed its readers it has a copy of the Central Council report which it quoted from extensively.

Following the Sunday Independent article perhaps the Chairman and Board members within Irish Red Cross will desist from blaming others on the Society’s dysfunction and perhaps concentrate on dealing with and removing those who are responsible. Shooting the messenger never achieves anything.

The full transcript of the Sunday Independent article is transcribed below or alternatively can be read by clicking on the following link:

In addition to the above article the Irish Red Cross, in a statement to the Irish Independent for an article on falling donations to charities on 29th December 2011, was reported as saying that “fundraising was on a par with last year (2010)”. This statement was issued to the media by Irish Red Cross spokesperson Rebecca Thorn.

In his report to the Central Council issued in early December, Chairman David O’ Callaghan stated the following “All of our revenue lines are reducing and we must anticipate that this trend will continue for the next number of years....Our fundraising income has reduced considerably. As at the 31st October 2011, our gross income is €800k-compared to €1.48m at the same time last year....The revenue streams that have been particularly impacted this year are committed giving, legacies and tax rebates for donations...Our income is reducing significantly and these trends look likely to continue for the short to medium term”.

It would seem clear that one message has been given to the Irish Red Cross board and an entirely different and contradictory message given to the Irish public and media. The question must therefore be asked why did the Irish Red Cross spokesperson issue a statement to the media stating that funding in 2011 was on a par with 2010 despite the Chairman clearly stating that funding has declined significantly during 2011. Whoever authorised this apparently misleading statement to the media needs to explain their actions and be held to account immediately. A corrected statement confirming a significant decline in funding needs to be issued to the media to counter the original misrepresentation.

In addition, how the same Irish Red Cross spokesperson could say that the response to the Dublin Floods was “a big response” only she will know. With only €30,000 raised it must rank as one of the most poorly responded to national appeals ever launched by the Irish Red Cross.

The Irish Independent article can be read on the following link where it will be seen that other charities interviewed had no hesitation in admitting funding had declined during 2011:

While we can only hope that during 2012 there will be real accountability within the Irish Red Cross as well as the necessary personnel change at Central Council and Executive Committee level the well known French proverb unfortunately springs to mind plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

The full Sunday Independent article of 25th December 2011 is below:

Red Cross 'needs year to shake off bad press'

Charity beefs up its governance practices after financial failings

By DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter
Sunday December 25 2011

THE chairman of the embattled Irish Red Cross, which was dogged by financial and governance failings last year, has said it will be at least another year before it can be fully cleansed of "negative press".

In a detailed half yearly report to the charity's central council seen by the Sunday Independent, David O'Callaghan said that 2011 saw a sizeable drop in the number of negative stories about the ongoing "turmoil" at the Irish Red Cross.

Mr O'Callaghan said that a small number of current and former volunteers, as well as former staff members, had been conducting a "campaign against the society", which he described as "deeply unhelpful".

"The ongoing campaign against the society by former staff, supported by a number of current and former volunteers, is deeply unhelpful. Certain sections of politics and the media remain cynical towards the IRC. It will be another year at least before clear light and distance is put between the society and the negative press of 2010," he wrote.

Mr O'Callaghan's report detailed a host of new financial and governance practices which have been introduced since reports of a lack of proper financial control first emerged in early 2010.
"The first challenge was the requirement to strengthen our governance and supervisory processes at every level to a standard that meets best practice for the charity sector. This is the only way in which we will conclusively put the turmoil of recent years behind us," he said.

Given significant drops in its revenue, from €1.48m in October, 2010, to €800,000 this year, Mr O'Callaghan detailed a cost reduction programme across the society, but also highlighted that many deficiencies in the handling of monies within the society remained.

He said that while compliance on financial returns from local branches had improved substantially since 2010, "we still have a lot of work to do".

"Some of the issues that have arisen are: lack of supporting information; expenses not vouched correctly; lodgements and cheque books not sequentially numbered; no quarterly returns; no receipt books used; branch committee forms not completed and aged debtors outstanding with head office."

All area secretaries and treasurers around the country have been sent a list of issues that remain outstanding and which Mr O'Callaghan said must be dealt with if the Irish Red Cross is to demonstrate its commitment to high standards and to establish the Irish Red Cross as a best practice organisation.

As a result of consistent weaknesses in documentation from local branches, Mr O'Callaghan said the organisation's financial officer is calling local treasurers on a daily basis to ensure full compliance.

"The financial control environment has changed for us all. We must meet higher and more demanding standards, and branch and area officers must respond appropriately," he added.

The Irish Red Cross was heavily criticised back in the summer by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who has statutory responsibility for the society, and appoints its chairman and members of its board.

In July, it emerged that Mr Shatter had written to the Irish Red Cross stating that he opposed long board service and had requested the Irish Red Cross to expeditiously address this problem.

The minister clearly stated in Dail Eireann on June 29, 2011, that he is opposed to any board member serving in the same position for more than six years and in a leadership role for a cumulative period of more than 12 years.
- DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter


  1. Anonymous2:56 PM

    The bells of Christ Church rang over Dublin not 23 hours and 45 minutes ago and the rhetoric of the Irish Red Cros remains the same.

    The shame that was, is carried forward into yet another year. However, there is great joy to be had in the fact that the Irish Red Cross in less than 18 days will be stood once again in the public eye not for doing good, but for being accused of doing wrong. How can this be?

    How can a humanitiarian Society get it so wrong. Simple really, they close their eyes and ears to the truth. Their members close their eyes and ears to the truth. As for speaking the truth, they would rather give up their first born, and abandon their homes, than see the truth that is the Irish Red Cross become visible.

    2012 or 2011 nothing changes ! The shame that will befall all those that deny the truth, will be their punishment !

  2. Anonymous1:53 AM

    In the Blog it is mentioned many times, the matter of compliance. The Vice Chairman of the Society was caught with a fund of 162k which was not his or the property of his Area. That was indeed an oversight which would in a normal organisation, would have at best seen individulas expelled and a file sent to the Gardai for investigation. Neither of these options were used.

    As for compliance this blog has mentioned a number of times the fact that the Vice Chairman of the Irish Red Cross acted as a represntative for an area and branch which were non compliant of the rules and regulations of the Society. They failed, it is suggested for several years to make any returns to their head office, as is required.

    There are mandatory rules relating to the failure of making returns. The Society rules state that the branch which fails to make returns is no longer a branch. This means that the Vice Chairman of the Society was representing no one for several years, and was not a proper elected Central Council member.

    We are now in 2012 and the history of the Irish Red Cross and the facts relating to the acts carried out by the Vice Chairman of the Society remain the same. Justice has not been seen to be done in 2011. That simple fact remains.

    Whether the PAC find against the Irish Red Cross or not, or if the new Secretary General can justify the removal of 600k from the Haiti fund for internal use, is not really that important, what is important is that the Irish Red Cross like the Leopard has not changed its spots.

  3. Anonymous1:21 AM

    Congratulations blogger as I notice the above article is the 100th posted! That is some achievement and provides a crucially important history of the scandals and ineptitude that has brought the Irish Red Cross ruling elite into such disrepute.

    This blog and its 100 articles will thankfully provide a permanent record of what really happened at the Irish Red Cross and who was and is responsible.

    I hope this blog continues exposing the truth at the Irish Red Cross until such time as those responsible are gone from the society.

  4. Anonymous1:25 AM

    Could someone please explain what Rebecca Thorn the communications person at Irish Red Cross was thinking of when she completely contradicted the Chairman Mr O Callaghan in her recent statement to the press. Raises alot of questions thats for sure.

    They are all acting out like a series of " yes minister".

  5. Anonymous3:33 AM

    Well, done Noel. Isn't it ironic that the Irsih Red Cross can not come up with 100 blogs.

    I gues what can they say other than " WE GOT IT WRONG", well fat chance of that happening.

  6. Anonymous11:17 AM

    15 Days to go before the Irish Red Cross appear before the Dail Public Accounts Committee, Many NGO's will be watching this unfold as it has implications for the future. Who will represent the Irish Red Cross? Will it be Donal Forde who has been before the committee representing his former employer AIB in 2008 and found seriously wanting on that occasion? Will it be the Chairman who has been near invisible since his appointment and who it is not sure whether he represents the Irish Red Cross or his former employer the Department of Defence? Or will they be foolish enough to bring in Anthony Lawlor who is one of the main causes of most of the Society's woes. Or they could use Ms Sheila Callan who has some background in television performances!!! Yes remember RTE's Prime Time back in August 2010. All we can do on 19th January is watch and weep, just like we did at that Prime Time performance !

  7. Anonymous10:48 AM

    Only in the Irish Red Cross would the Spokesperson issue a completely contradictory statement to that issued by the organisation's Chairman.

    One of them has issued incorrect information. If the Chairman's is incorrect he has misrepresented the situation to the Irish RC Central Council and the broader membership. If the Spokesperson is incorrect she has misrepresented the situation to the Irish public. Whichever is the case it is extremely serious and corrective action and disciplinary measures are required. We can be sure though that Irish Red Cross will do nothing. Misrepresenting information is something thats ingrained in their culture.

  8. Anonymous4:25 AM

    The Irish Red Cross will stumble from one crisis to the next during 2012. January will see them up before the Dail Public Accounts Committee. Regardless of any spin they spew out at that Hearing the fact that they have been called before the country's national parliament to answer questions on financial wrongdoings and desperate misgovernance speaks for itself. It is a disgraced organisation and until it tackles those responsible it will remain a disgraced organisation.

    The Society's recent contradictory statements from its Chairman and its Spokesperson proves beyond doubt that nothing has changed and the same despicable culture still remains.

  9. Anonymous5:10 AM

    While its obvious to all and sundry that the Irish Red Cross Vice Chairman and Treasurer should have been removed from the Irish Red Cross long ago and the whole Executive Committee and Central Council stood down by the Minister and replaced with a temporary emergency board appointed by the Government it can only be hoped that the Vice Chairman will not be allowed run again in April 2012 for a 22nd year in a row and the Treasurer for a 13th (unlucky for some!) year in a row (on Executive).

    If both men are re-appointed again there will be howls of derision from every quarter, except of course from the silent acquiescent fearful Central Council who will not resist the re-appointment of the two men should they put their names forward.

    If 2012 doesnt see the removal or stepping down of the Vice Chairman and Treasurer then we will know with certainty that the Irish Red Cross leopard has not changed its spots

  10. Anonymous6:10 AM

    So the Chairman is telling us in his report that 2011 was a very bad year financially for the Irish Red Cross with income declining across every income sector. As a result of this the Secretary General has suspended all ambulance purchases in 2012 and perhaps there will be no purchases in 2013 either.

    Then lo and behold the Irish Red Cross spokesperson tells the Irish Independent newspaper that Irish Red Cross income in 2011 stayed the same as 2010 implying no fall in income during 2011. Well if thats the case then why do Irish Red Cross branches have to have a suspension of ambulance purchases imposed on them from head office? If funding didnt decline in 2011 then why are ambulance purchases and branches being targeted for cuts? Is this to save head office jobs and pay large salaries to senior managers at the expense of vital ambulance purchases? Have senior managers taken any salary cuts as a result of falling income or is it only branches and ambulance purchases that will be hit? Or is it that the Chairman was correct in saying income has fallen in 2011 but that for the public the Irish Red Cross wants to give misleading information? Whatever the real situation the Society has once again made a mess of its internal and external communications and is insulting the intelligence of its members with these conflicting messages. If income is falling and it is in the best interests of the Society to cancel ambulances purchases for a few years then so be it but if income is not falling and ambulance purchases are stopped in order to serve other 'agendas' then that will not be acceptable and will be resisted. The Chairman should straight away issue a clarification stating whether income did or did not fall in 2011 and explain why his spokesperson was authorised to issue a statement the exact opposite to his own.

  11. Anonymous1:50 AM

    10 Days to go until the Red Cross will stand accused before the PAC, and not a single word of how the Red Cross will defend their appauling record of mis governance and poor financial governance. Will Noel Wardick and other be called to give evidence of the truth or will the PAC take the word of an already discredited organisation.

    How will they explain the hiding of 162k and the removal of 600k from an appeal fund. How will they defend refusing to allow Red Cross membership see the new Governance proposals until after they were agreed. How will they defend lying to the press with regards to their financial records.

    We shall see!

  12. Anonymous11:40 PM

    9 days to go . Will the new Secretary General have the details of the hidden portfolio available for the PAC. How does a National Society hide properties from their governing body , their memebrship, their aduitors? The former branch and unit administratorPat Hogan, first wrote to every area in 1992 asking for details of these properties.

    The plot is thicker than blood !

  13. Anonymous7:40 AM

    The great thig about this blog is that it gives a voice to the voiceless within the Irish Red and those that are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs or positions on the Executive Committee, Central Council or various committees.

    Fear is very pervasive within Irish Red Cross and the Society has no culture of transparency or genuine open intelligent debate. Thankfully this blog has provided a most important voice within the Irish Red Cross. If the history of the Society is ever written and if it is an honest and truthful version this blog and its impact and role in revealing deep rooted incompetence, misgovernance and financial abuse will feature very prominently. This blog and those responsible for it have been the number one driving force behind forcing honesty and reform on the Irish Red Cross. Resistance to reform and good practice remains determined and strong though so its crtical this blog continues to be the voice for truthfulness and change within the Society

    Kepp it up as this voice is still required, there is much to say and much to be heard, despite the contrary wishes of Irish Red Cross leaders who want nothing more than this blog silenced so they can revert to their damaging dictatorial abusive old ways. This must never be allowed happen again. So keep the bright light shining right on top of them so that their every move is closely monitored and reported on.

  14. Anonymous3:01 AM

    Yes the blog is the voice of truth and everyone associated with the Irish Red Cross knows this by now. The blog is probably far more widely read than the Irish Red Cross website. For anyone wanting to know what really happens at the Irish Red Cross the Blog is the first port of call. Why? Because it tells the truth, its that simple. And Irish Red Cross doesnt tell the truth. So people read the blog. When Irish Red Cross stops deceiving and spinning and misrepresenting people will not need to read the blog and stop reading it. So long as certain individuals remain on the Irish Red Cross board people will never believe a word issued by the Irish Red Cross.

    Thank you Blog for exposing the truth. Long may it continue

  15. Anonymous6:32 AM

    The Irish Red Cross has some neck putting an opinion piece up on its website to mark the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. They did this despite the fact that the Irish Red Cross failed to allocate over €600,000, that was raised from the general public for Haiti, to its Haiti fund and instead used the money to pay for its domestic expenses including exhorbitant expenditure on consultant and legal fees.

    The Irish Red Cross has no shame. It writes articles pretending to care about Haiti and its citizens when it kept €600,000 from them. How many stranded Haitians struggling in appalling temporary camps could be re-housed and given a new life with €600,000? Stop writing articles and just give the money back. I'm sick with disgust at this pitiful shameful excuse for a Red Cross national society

  16. Anonymous6:38 AM

    It is appropriate then that 2 years after the Haiti earthquake and therefore 2 years after the Irish Red Cross took €600,000 from the Haiti appeal that the organisation should find itself hauled before the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (on 19th January) to explain their shocking and scandalous record over the past 20 years. It will be fascinating to watch and listen to their excuses and claims of innocence. No-one believes them anymore as they have been proven beyond doubt to be inept and incompetent as well as negligent to their very core. Well done to the Dail Public Accounts Committee for continuing their investigation into the Irish Red Cross especially after the Department of Defence Secretary General only heightened concern and suspicion after his dreadful performance before the Committee back in October 2011.

  17. Anonymous7:14 AM

    Henry Dunant was a force for change in the world of conflict, so was Rosa Parks, Martin Luther king and others, too many to be named. They all suffered hostility for their Humanitarian views. Dunant suffered severe poverty at the end of his life for daring to take on the elites of Society. When I first brought the misappropriation of Irish Red Cross monies to the attention of my local area and subsequently to the attention of the Central Council in the 90’s I got a lovely letter from solicitors representing the National Treasurer on behalf of the members of the Executive and Central Council. This was followed by a sending to Coventry. Then I was summoned to a disciplinary hearing in Dublin. The Irish Red Cross have destroyed all records of this event. Fair play to Maureen O Sullivan from Cork who had the decency and integrity to share with me the records provided to the Executive by Tony Lawlor. When he wrote that I apologised for questioning the Society he reported something that I never did. I never apologised and he knew that. I wonder why anyone would want to destroy Executive Committee minutes? If all those that have questioned the integrity of the Irish Red Cross were to gather our letters of threat from the Irish Red Cross, we might create an interesting bibliography of documentation for future students of law. The IRC even went so far as to ask Central Council members not to respond to any of my correspondence as the society was taking legal action against me for accusing them of retaining overseas money. No action was taken and the money destined for emergencies in Albania, Armenia and Somalia to name but a few were held in accounts for years. It took articles in the press to force them to release and spend it. That was all two decades ago, and today not a damn thing has changed other than the calendar and several Secretary Generals. I’m still here and intend to be. Happy New Year. The Irish Red Cross Executive would have had Dunant hounded and harassed and thrown out for questioning the status quo and for demanding honesty and integrity. Gerard Moyne Life Member Irish Red Cross

  18. Anonymous8:50 AM

    Outside 16 Merrion Square flies the protective emblem of the Red Cross. If you pass you will find the door locked and the blinds closed.

    A flag and blinds used to protect deceit. I am proud to be a member of the Red Cross and ashamed to be a member of the Irish Red Cross. Two years after Haiti and the suffering of the people continues. Donal Forde Sec. Gen. IRC and former CEO of AIB has the audacity to defend on behalf of the IRC the keeping of 600k of money given by the Irish people to aid the people of Haiti. The Irish Red Cross are now using this money to shore up their failures.

    Hopefully the PAC ( Public Accounts Committee) will expose their shame, even if they don't, history will prove them guilty. What a disgrace! A National Red Cross Society being investigated for misuse of money, then again the record of misuse of money by the Irish Red Cross is a lengthy one.

    The people of Ireland are not fools !

  19. Anonymous3:05 AM

    Its very simple. If Irish Red Cross denies at the Public Accounts Committee Hearing on 19th Jan that they did not allocate over €600,000 of public money intended for Haiti to their domestic account they will have lied on public record to the Irish Parliament. Everything else they say will be meaningless as this one denial will prove beyond doubt that nothing has changed and that they are prepared to lie to the highest parliamentary committee in the land.

    If I was a betting man and knowing the Irish Red Cross well they will deny they used Haiti money in Ireland and therefore lie in Dail Eireann, something that will be unforgivable and will speak volumes for the characters of the individuals who issue the denials.

  20. Anonymous3:49 AM

    5 Days till the IRC will have to account for itself before Mr Mc Guinness at the PAC. Will it ? Or will they tell a version of whatever lie it takes to make the story sound good. Will they tell the story, how they sacked Noel Wardick and tried to sue google so that story would not get exposed. Will they tell the more recent story how they have tried without success to stop particular members speaking out. Will they tell the story of how they refused to allow the memebrship see the new Governance proposals until after they were voted in.

    What story will they tell? that sounds even somewhere near the truth, or will they tell a story that this Blog can blow to pieces with the truth.

    The bottom line is, no matter what the story is, the Irish Red Cross will be found guilty, not by this Blog or the PAC, but by the victims they refused to help by keeping the money.

    An open letter to the people of Haiti, from the Irish Red Cross,

    We did well on your suffering ! Thank you !

  21. Anonymous10:56 AM

    If they do lie that gives the opportunity for anyone under the new criminal justice act 2011, to make a complaint to the GardaĆ­ to investigate and take the necessary action. This act allows for sentences up to 5 years.