Self Help group solve internal dispute with appointment of new chairman

THE long-running dispute between the board members of a charity specialising in farmer-to-farmer aid was resolved last night with the appointment of a new chairman.

Former chairman of Glanbia Tom Corcoran was unanimously elected as the new chairman of Self Help Development International, with former chairman Liam Reynolds taking the position of vice-chairman.

Members of Self Help also agreed to the appointment of an outside chairman to oversee a governance review and seek submissions from a broad range of stakeholders and interested parties.

This outside chairman will be expected to produce an interim report by the end of January 2007.

UCD lecturer Jim Kinsella, who had previously resigned in frustration at the continuing disagreements within Self Help, will be invited onto the board again alongside John Carroll.

The recent difficulties surrounding the Carlow-based charity related to how funds are administered and over issues of corporate governance.

The ending of formal links between the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and Self Help followed and the Minister of State Conor Lenihan subsequently described a boardroom row in the agency as of serious concern.

The minister intervened in the dispute as the Department of Foreign Affairs has provided almost €10 million in grants and an application for €17m in funding by Self Help is currently being considered.

Last night, Mr Reynolds said he was very pleased that Mr Corcoran had agreed to take on the chairmanship.

Mr Corcoran said the charity had an extraordinary proven record of implementing sustainable projects in East Africa where they are most needed.

Of the funds raised last year, 87% went directly to our long-term development work, 11% to raising more money for that work and only 2% on administration.

The key thing is to support the staff in continuing this work, he said.

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