HSE withholds funding for abuse survivors’ charity

NO further funding will be given to a group representing survivors of institutional abuse until its membership proves they can manage public money appropriately, the Health Service Executive has warned.

The organisation Right of Place/Second Chance, based in Cork, receives large grants annually from the HSE. Last year, it was allocated €337,500, and since 2002 it has collected more than €2.2 million.

In August, members raised concerns with the HSE about how funds were being managed. It was not until October, however, that the HSE urgently sought specific details from the organisation’s founder Noel Barry.

Mr Barry has not yet responded, and in the meantime has been ousted from his position as chairman by a section of disgruntled members who claim they are the charity’s new committee.

Mr Barry, however, does not accept this and has obtained a High Court injunction locking them out of the charity’s headquarters on the Glanmire Road in Cork.

In a strongly worded letter to the new committee dated December 10, the HSE says it is “concerned and dismayed” at the situation and that clarity is urgently required.

“Time and space afforded by the HSE to various elements within the organisation to resolve their differences must cease. No new service agreement can be considered until matters are resolved, and given the vulnerability of the client group the sooner the better,” the letter states.

The new committee claims an AGM has not been held since it was set up in 1999, and also claims accounts to show annual expenditure and income are not distributed to members or made public. Detail of the structure of Right of Place is also being sought by the HSE.

In 2000, Mr Barry set up a limited company, Right of Place Building Project, which enjoys charitable status and of which he is the director. It is a separate entity to the members group Right of Place/Second Chance.

The new committee claims membership never knew of the existence of the limited company, and always believed the members’ group Right of Place/Second Chance had charitable status.

Deirdre Garvey, chief executive of a representative body of charities, The Wheel, said it was bad practice for someone running a charity to be on its board of directors.

The board of directors was there to oversee the staff and the running of the organisation in keeping with the principle of checks and balances, she said.

Last night, Mr Barry said he was not willing to comment as the matter was currently before the courts.

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