NOTE: On 2nd February 2012 the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) once again (for the 3rd time) returned to the issue of the Irish Red Cross. It seems the PAC has every intention of pursuing the Irish Red Cross over its highly questionable evidence presented at PAC hearing of 19th January 2012. The exact transcript from 2nd February PAC is transcribed below as well as the link to the Parliament's website with the wording:
On 19th January 2012 the Irish Red Cross was hauled over the coals by Ireland’s most senior parliamentary committee, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). As readers of this blog will be familiar the reason for the Society’s appearance before the Committee is the extensive misgovernance and financial irregularities at the charity.
In the course of giving evidence representatives of the Irish Red Cross told untruths and misrepresented facts. The evidence and excuses provided left many observers including the members of parliament sitting on the PAC shocked, angered and bemused.
Those responsible must be held to account for the evidence and inaccuracies provided. They must also apologise publicly and on the record as well as stating why they told untruths and clarify whether they did so knowingly. If they did so unknowingly the people who provided them the inaccurate information need to be removed from the Society immediately. If on the other hand the Irish Red Cross representatives provided inaccurate information knowingly they must resign forthwith.
At least two individuals have already formally and on record written to the Public Accounts Committee challenging the evidence provided by the Society. Following a review of this correspondence the PAC decided to publish both letters on public record. The two letters are transcribed in full below and the links to their publication on the Dail/Oireachtas website are also provided.
The letter written by Noel Wardick, former Head of International at the Irish Red Cross has been forwarded by PAC to the Irish Red Cross. The PAC has requested a formal written response from the Society to Wardick’s letter. This response will be published by PAC in due course.
It is very important that the PAC continues to pursue and challenge the Irish Red Cross who seemed to be under the mistaken illusion that once the PAC hearing on the 19th January concluded the matter would be closed. The Public Accounts Committee obviously takes a very dim view of receiving inaccurate and untruthful information.
The link to Noel Wardick’s published letter is:
The second letter to be published by PAC was written by Mr. Gerard Moyne, a current life member of the Irish Red Cross. Of particular note in Mr. Moyne’s letter is his assertion, contrary to what the Irish Red Cross has led us to believe, that is was not only not common practice for branches to open separate branch bank accounts for overseas appeals money but that such a practice was in fact frowned upon. Mr. Moyne claims that during his time as a Red Cross branch secretary overseas appeals monies were always expeditiously transferred directly to Irish Red Cross HQ in Dublin. The opposite happened in Tipperary where the national Vice Chairman, Anthony (Tony) Lawlor, was a bank account signatory. The link to Mr. Moyne’s letter is:
The full transcript of Wardick’s letter is as follows:
21st January 2012
Mr. John Mc Guinness, TD
Public Accounts Committee,
Public Accounts Committee Hearing into Irish Red Cross 19th January 2012
I watched the above hearing live on line and I can only describe my reaction to the statements and answers provided by the Irish Red Cross as one of shock, outrage and disgust.
The extent of misinformation and quite frankly untruths told is staggering. To do so on public record, in our national parliament and before elected representatives is astounding.
I believe great damage has been done to the image and reputation of the Red Cross, its emblem and everything it stands for. Based on what I witnessed at the hearing I greatly fear for the future, the integrity and the welfare of the Irish Red Cross.
Whether the Irish Red Cross representatives believed what they were saying to be accurate and true only they will ever know. Regardless it does not take away from the inaccuracy of very substantial parts of their evidence.
I intend to respond in detail to the statements and answers provided by the Red Cross representatives once the full transcript of the hearing becomes available. I will forward this to the Public Accounts Committee and the Department of Defence as a formal record.
In relation to one issue, however, I will record my view now. It is factually incorrect to say that when the Tipperary account was first discovered in 2008 that the then Head of Finance told nobody and that for a number of years no board member therefore knew about the account’s existence and/or discovery. In 2008 when the bank account was discovered at least three senior board members were informed. One of these subsequently resigned over the organisation’s failure to investigate the matter as well as other concerns the person had surrounding governance and finance. A fourth, the Vice Chairman who was one of the signatories on the Tipperary bank account, also obviously knew.
In addition to these board members the Secretary General of the Society at the time was immediately informed (2008). I am sure this can easily be verified by the individual who is currently a senior civil servant in the Department of Justice and Defence (he was on secondment to the Irish Red Cross as Secretary General at the time of the bank account’s discovery).
As Head of the International Department I was personally informed by the Secretary General of the bank account’s discovery circa Sept/Oct 2008. I have email correspondence to the Secretary General in early October 2008 stating that I felt the Vice Chairman should resign over the matter. I can provide a copy of this email if required. I continually called (until my dismissal) for an independent investigation into the account (at senior management meetings, at staff meetings and during numerous private discussions with two separate Secretary Generals).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you as Chair Deputy Mc Guinness and all members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for investigating the Irish Red Cross and the allegations of misgovernance and financial malpractice. Given the enormous workload on the Committee there are many of us very appreciative that the PAC discussed this issue not only once but on two separate occasions, 13th October 2011 and 19th January 2012.
I think it only correct to note Deputy Kieran O’ Donnell for being an excellent Chair on the 19th and for allowing the hearing continue for well over two and a half hours thereby facilitating a rigorous and detailed questioning of the Irish Red Cross. Interventions by Deputies Derek Nolan, Simon Harris and Anne Ferris were also extremely important. In particular, however, I would wish to commend the lead questioner on the 19th, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. His knowledge of the subject matter was detailed and comprehensive and as such must have entailed a considerable investment of time, energy and preparation. In a time when public representatives are seemingly continually and collectively criticised I would want to put on record my own appreciation to all of those on PAC who obviously put significant effort and work into this case.
12 Conquer Hill Avenue,
Cc: Minister for Justice and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, TD
The full transcript of Mr. Moyne’s letter to PAC is below:
23rd January 2012
The Chairperson & Committee Members
Committee of Public Accounts
Dear Mr Kinane,
I would appreciate it if you would circulate this letter to committee members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
On Thursday last (19th January), I attended as an observer the meeting PAC held with representatives of the Dept. of Defence and the representatives of the Irish Red Cross Society.
I must state it is difficult as a committed member of the Irish Red Cross of some 38 years to observe the charade that was presented to the Committee. One might liken the evidence given by the Irish Red Cross to that given to a similar commission set up in the
The burglary of the Irish Red Cross head office in the 1980’s was used to add credence to a belief that the failures to present property information in the Society’s accounts were as a result of something that happened some three decades ago. Had the time frame been added when the Irish Red Cross answered the property questions I am sure the Committee would have been less than impressed.
When the PAC produce a transcript of the hearing I will respond in detail why it is I firmly believe that most of what was presented to the committee is fundamentally flawed and much of it inaccurate.
I did find the comments less than amusing of how ‘delighted’ all the IRC representatives were to be sitting giving evidence to the
I will state for the record that prior to the official line that no one knew about the Tipperary money for a very lengthy period after its discovery in 2008 by Mr Declan O Sullivan the facts are that quite a few people knew, the matter was being widely discussed amongst the membership in 2008 and 2009 that the Vice Chairman of the Society had not only failed to declare the Tsunami money but that the Tipperary Branch had not made returns at all to head office in several years, in downright breach of policy at the time (this is noted in the internal review into the Tipperary bank account). This information was being widely discussed on the grapevine amongst staff and volunteers.
Might I also comment on the issue of staff failures to control the level of monies coming in for the Tsunami Appeal. For many years prior to this, with alot less staff, large appeals were held for
During my time over a several year period as Secretary of the Red Cross in Donegal, it was not as stated to you at the PAC, a practice to put Appeal money into Branch accounts, in fact this was frowned upon. All money was sent directly to Head Office. This can easily be verified by production of Branch Accounts. It is very disconcerting that Red Cross staff are once again being blamed for what was an attempt to hide money.
I must congratulate the Committee for its respect of the good name of the Red Cross and the recognition of its vital role in our Society. I am sure the Committee were, as I was, stunned at the current Irish Red Cross leaders unwillingness to have the vice chairman stand down having held office for an inordinate period of twenty one years.
They stated that they cannot get a single person out of the so called five thousand volunteers to take on the roles of the Treasurer and Vice Chairman. This is a derisible excuse.
I look forward to presenting my views in detail on the disgraceful performance of the Irish Red Cross at the PAC on the 19th January. It is important that the public record shows fact.
I am most concerned that the characters of a number of persons have been brought into disrepute by Mr Forde and Mr O Callaghan in the giving of their evidence. I trust the PAC will allow the records to show that these persons have been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations presented to the
Life Member Irish Red Cross
Half a truth is often a great lie-Benjamin Franklin