Following a long-standing dispute between Noel Barry, head of Right of Place, and a new committee formed last November to oust him, an agreement was finally signed last month, with the HSE acting as a mediator and Mr Barry’s legal representative chairing the meeting.
The organisation has been under scrutiny since late last year after the HSE ordered that its founder Mr Barry answer questions in relation to how it was spending its money. One of the country’s largest survivor groups, it has received millions in Government funding since 2002 and continues to receive money.
An Irish Examiner investigation last December revealed the group, unknown to its members, had, as well as Government funds, received hundreds of thousands from religious orders and bishops.
Mr Barry, however, refuses to say how the money was spent and despite huge pressure from his membership has refused to resign. And despite the agreement it is understood Mr Barry is still refusing to co-operate with the new committee as equals and will not give them access to the company accounts.
Under the terms of the agreement, Mr Barry must resign as the director of Right of Place Building Project Ltd but it does not state he must resign completely from the charity which has a second arm, Right of Place/Second Chance. It also states an injunction taken out by Mr Barry against the new committee to stop them gaining access to the charity’s HQ will be lifted. The wording of the agreement states “legal disputes will be deemed settled on signing of agreement by those signatories to this agreement... the applicant [Noel Barry] will have the matter struck out with no order as to costs”. It is understood the injunction was a major sticking point during negotiations, and the new committee was hampered by its existence.
Members have accused the new committee, the chairman of which is Oliver Burke, of capitulating to Mr Barry.
Mr Burke said it was imperative to sign the agreement to allow fair elections to take place. Mr Barry has refused to answer any questions relating to the running of Right of Place.
An AGM for Right of Place members in the south east will take place on Thursday.