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Charity sector needs more transparency

There is no evidence of an independent review and approval process at the Central Remedial Clinic in the determination of the outrageous scale of remuneration, termination and pension arrangements with its former chief executive, or the source of cash to pay these, contrary to basic standards of acceptable institutional governance.

American public charities and private foundations must provide, through Form 990, detailed information about their governance, income and expenses to the Internal Revenue Service in order to maintain tax-exempt status. This information is published on the website of each filing charity and is relied on by some donors and members of the public as the primary, or sole source, of credible information about a particular charity. Should Irish charities be obliged to follow a similar procedure with the Revenue Commissioners and publish tax returns?

The Irish not-for-profit sector claims annual revenues of the order of €5.7bn, of which 65% is spent on salaries, according to Environment Minister Phil Hogan in Jul 2012. Only €500m of this was provided through public donations and philanthropy with the bulk from two private foundations. The State has an overwhelming responsibility to demand high standards of governance from those obtaining taxpayers money, as well as public donations.

The capacity of the charity sector to redeem public trust, reputation and public voluntary donations will be hugely influenced by their credibility and integrity, expressed through the calibre, competence and independence of their leadership and the standard of transparency and accountability to which they subscribe.

Myles Duffy
Co Dublin


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