Early Childhood Ireland seeking assurances from IAA as National Pyjama Day funds withheld from charity

Brian Murnane, CEO Irish Autism Action, has said his charity had not written a budget for 2016. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Early Childhood Ireland wants assurances from Irish Autism Action over agreed programme of work

More than €300,000 raised from 2016’s National Pyjama Day for Irish Autism Action (IAA) is being withheld from the organisation.

National Pyjama Day is Early Childhood Ireland’s (ECI) annual fundraiser.

ECI released a statement yesterday informing its 3,500 childcare members that it is not going to release the funds to IAA until certain questions are answered.

“Early Childhood Ireland is seeking assurances that IAA can deliver on the agreed programme of work before any monies raised through National Pyjama Day 2016 are released and we have written to all PJ participants to keep them informed,” read the statement.

Children in playschools and preschools all over Ireland partake in the fundraiser, now in its 13th year. The move follows the announcement by IAA that it was cutting its core outreach service, which is now provided to just two families. Furthermore Brian Murnane, chief executive of IAA, said the charity had not written a budget for 2016.

“Early Childhood Ireland is aware of management changes at IAA, the cuts in its behavioural outreach services to families and the reduction in its staff numbers. We continue to monitor the situation and have met with IAA about National Pyjama Day funds,” read the statement.

IAA already received more than €300,000 from last year’s National Pyjama Day. This money was used to fund 34 training courses and the group’s Step Ahead programme as well as supporting an information website for the charity.

ECI runs a competitive tendering process for charities seeking to receive the funds raised from this annual event.

In order to be successful, a charity must submit a detailed proposal for where the funds will be used.

National Pyjama Day has raised more than €2m over 13 years for organisations such as Make a Wish, Children in Hospital Ireland, and the Irish Hospice Foundation.

IAA was presented with a sequence of questions from ECI. ECI will wait for reassurances from the charity before making a decision to release the funds from National Pyjama Day 2016. Mr Murnane acknowledged that ECI is withholding the funds.

Meanwhile, other charity partners, Nestlé Ireland in Dublin and Nestlé’s Wyeth Nutrition plant in Askeaton, Co Limerick, raised €108,277 for IAA.

This money was raised by 700 staff members and released to the charity last month.

The Irish Examiner asked Nestlé for a comment on their relationship with IAA, in light of recent events.

“Irish Autism Action [IAA] has been the staff’s Charity of the Year since 2014 when a commitment was made to raise €120,000 through fundraising events. The €108,277 funds raised by staff since then have provided almost 4,000 hours of autism support services including individual behavioural support and therapeutic sessions. This has been verified by IAA,” said a spokesperson for Nestlé.

IAA is one of four charities that will receive fundraised monies from Woodie’s DIY’s Heroes campaign.

It was not possible to reach Woodie’s for a comment yesterday.


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