Barnardos: Top-ups scandal has potential to cripple charity sector

Disability service campaigners have branded the deepening Central Remedial Clinic top-ups scandal as “disgusting” and said the crisis has the potential to “cripple” the charity sector.

Groups ranging from the Special Needs Parents Association to children’s group Barnardos hit out at the situation as fresh revelations are revealed in today’s Irish Examiner.

SNPA spokeswoman Lorraine Dempsey said the ongoing issue is “disgusting” considering the fact up to 4,000 vulnerable children and adults dependent on the CRC service are already facing waiting lists for care.

She said the situation is causing heartache to families with disabilities, some of whom are ready to “pull the plug” on their charitable work until full transparency is provided.

“We already know parents who are connected with the CRC and they are now pulling the plug on their support because they’re looking at it [and asking], is it [donations] a top-up to a CEO’s salary or is it for their own family,” said Ms Dempsey.

“We’re calling for greater transparency within this whole sector. We don’t have a charity regulator, we definitely need one. Organisations involved in fundraising need to be transparent with the public.”

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said the top-ups scandal has the potential to “cripple” the charity sector. He admitted he would be reluctant to donate money to organisations unless he knew where it was going.

Disability Federation of Ireland chief executive John Dolan said that he was reserving judgment on the matter. However, he added that the situation “is not good for public confidence and could lead to people not supporting organisations at a time of cutbacks”.

The remark was mirrored by charities umbrella group Fundraising Ireland, which said the deepening top-ups dispute is leading to people canceling their charitable donations for numerous organisations that cannot survive without public support.

Chief executive Anne Hanniffy said the revelations are having a “disproportionate and unfair impact on the funding efforts of charities and, critically, people reliant” on such charities.

“It is doubly concerning when the source of people’s frustration is an issue which has absolutely nothing to do with the way in which the vast majority of high quality not-for-profit organisations are funded and operated,” said Ms Hanniffy.

The campaigner said transparency, accountability and regulation are vital to any healthy institution.

However, she added: “We owe it to donors that their money goes where they expect it to go.”

More questions than answers in the wake of the CRC statement on allowances

In response to a CRC statement on Thursday, the Irish Examiner put a series of follow-up questions to the body, but was told no further comment would be made. The same questions were put again to the CRC yesterday and are listed below. To date, they remain unanswered.

*Your statement said nine people were found in 2009 to be in receipt of additional allowances paid via public donations. Who are they?

*Who are the five of these individuals still employed at the CRC?

*Who are the two of these five due to retire within two years?

*Exactly how much money were/are each of these nine individuals receiving a year in (a) salary and (b) allowances/top up fees?

*When did each of these additional payments begin for each of these individuals, and why?

*Who signed off on allowing each of these payments?

*Were donors ever told this is how their money may be spent?

*What steps, if any, have the CRC taken to retrieve this money and ensure it is spent as intended?

*There have been a number of calls from politicians and disability service groups for the CRC board to step down. Does the CRC have any statement to make in relation to this?

More on this topic

Howlin: We need more transparency in area of pay for public servantsHowlin: We need more transparency in area of pay for public servants

HSE: No climbdown on top-up paymentsHSE: No climbdown on top-up payments

Hospitals and clinics ordered to stop paying management top-upsHospitals and clinics ordered to stop paying management top-ups

PAC chief 'surprised' by timing of hospital top-ups statementPAC chief 'surprised' by timing of hospital top-ups statement


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