Charities fear Government lacks expertise on key issues


There is widespread discontent among some of Ireland’s biggest charities about the quality of decision-making at Government level, a new survey suggests.

The Atlantic Philanthrophies-sponsored Advocacy Initiative has found that most non-governmental organisations do not have confidence in the decisions made by policymakers.

The Advocacy Initiative was set up three years ago to monitor the effectiveness of organisations involved in social justice.

It includes organisations such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Focus Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society.

Some 68 per cent of those who responded found there were few experts among decision makers, and barely half those surveyed (53 per cent) felt that policy decisions were underpinned by hard evidence.

More than half of those who responded (52 per cent) said it was more difficult to address issues of economic inequality during the recession and roughly the same number said there was extra competition for resources.

The results are carried in a report by the Advocacy Initiative entitled Mapping of Social Justice Advocacy in Ireland, which will be published this morning. The results are compiled from a random sample of 1,198 registered non-profit organisations.

Advocacy Initiative director Anna Visser said there was a perception that criticism of Government policy in relation to social justice or advocacy was a luxury for good times.

This was despite the belief among NGOs that without their input mistakes made in the past would continue.

She added: “If we prioritise front-line services to the detriment of advocacy and research we are doomed to repeat mistakes and learn little from the experience. The danger of such an approach is that underlying problems will remain.”