Penny Dinners appoints new group of trustees

One of the country’s oldest soup kitchen charities has dismissed criticism and appointed new trustees as part of a major restructuring.

Cork Penny Dinners, which has links to Quaker-run soup kitchens dating from the Famine in the 1840s, also defended its decision to refuse access to about 10 people to its EGM in the city last night.

50 members attended the EGM in its premises at Little Hanover St but there were tense scenes outside when a doorman refused access to two former members, and a group of non members, who are understood to be unhappy with the way the charity is being run.

Penny Dinners committee chairman Jim Urquhart said most of the group outside were not entitled to attend the private EGM as they were not members. He said the two former members were later granted access.

He also dismissed criticisms of charity’s financial structures which he said were investigated, and later “found to amount to nothing”. “There has never been any problem. There is a tremendous amount of integrity in this organisation.”

The meeting went passed a resolution accepting the retirement of trustees Jane Kidney, Fr Pat McCarthy of St Peter and Paul’s, and Bernard Uniake, and approving the appointment of Mr Urquhart, volunteer coordinator Catriona Twomey, Gary Heslin, Donella Casey, journalist Sarah Horgan and solicitor Gerald Kean as the new trustees. Solicitor David Donegan will be the charity’s new legal adviser.

“This is a new chapter for Penny Dinners,” said Mr Urquhart. “There is real potential for it to expand its services of feeding the hungry and homeless, while retaining its voluntary structure. It has functioned very successfully over the years, thanks to our donors and volunteers, and we are confident that will continue.

“But it needs a vision. We could do a lot more for the homeless.”

Cork Penny Dinners serves over 1,000 meals per week, compared to around 150 a week two years ago.


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