Charity donations not for ‘lavish salaries’ - Burton
Minister for Social Protection says revelations about CRC ‘extremely disturbing’
The clinic’s fundraising literature states that although it is largely State-funded, it has a “significant annual shortfall which must be made up through voluntary donations and fundraising”.
Charitable donations should not be used to fund “lavish salaries”, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said.
Speaking at the Labour Party National Conference in Killarney tonight, Ms Burton said revelations about the use of donated funds to top-up salaries at the Central Remedial Clinic were “extremely disturbing”.
She said it was “very important” that the organisation came out and clarified the issues that have been disclosed so far.
Ms Burton said the CRC needed to provide details of its fundraising and additional sources of income and explain how that money is spent.
“What happens after that depends on what they have to tell us,” she said. “I think they need to produce full accounting details and records and information in relation to it. Where it is inappropriate I would hope to see them change or modify that practice.”
The organisation yesterday admitted that money raised by a charitable company had been used to top up the salaries of staff including its former chief executive.
Five senior staff at the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) are still in receipt of top-up payments.
The organisation’s then chief executive Paul Kiely, who was on a State salary of €106,900 prior to his retirement, received a further €136,000 supplemented by the clinic.
Ms Burton said the public needed assurances that their generous donations to charities were being used for the purpose they hoped when selecting a charity to give money to.
This was particularly important in the lead up to Christmas, which was an important fundraising period, she added.
“I’m sure there is a huge amount of concern about the revelations because charity donations are not meant to fund lavish salaries way in excess of what the Taoiseach of the country is earning.”
The Taoiseach receives a salary of €185,350 annually.
Earlier, Fundraising Ireland, an umbrella organisation for professional fundraisers including a number of well-known Irish charities, said its members’ were reporting people cancelling their charitable donations as a result of the top up revelations.
Chief executive Anne Hanniffy said the revelations were having a “disproportionate and unfair impact on the funding efforts of charities and critically, people reliant” on such charities
“This is concerning for hard-pressed organisations so openly reliant on public generosity and support,” she said.
“It is doubly concerning when the source of people’s frustration is an issue which has absolutely nothing to do with the way in which the vast majority of high quality not-for-profit organisations are funded and operated.”
She said Fundraising Ireland believed transparency, accountability and regulation were vital to any healthy institution: “We owe it to donors that their money goes where they expect it to go,” she said.
A group representing the parents of special needs children, including those whose children have attended the Central Remedial Clinic, felt “betrayed” following revelations that fundraising monies raised by a charitable company went towards staff remuneration.
Lorraine Dempsey of the Special Needs Parents Association said parents who have actively fundraised for the organisation did so in the belief that monies raised would help increase the numbers of staff providing therapeutic interventions, thereby giving their children a better chance of accessing services.
“They were always under the assumption that the money being raised went directly to children and adult services provided by the CRC,” she said
Ms Dempsey made the comments after it was revealed that monies raised by the charitable company, Friends and Supporters of the Remedial Clinic, which generates funds from a lottery, were used to top up the salaries of senior staff including the CRC’s former chief executive.
Ms Dempsey said that there was a need for transparency across the sector and for such organisations to be regulated.
“We’re call for greater transparency within this whole sector. We don’t have a charity regulator, we definitely need one. Organisations involved in fundraising need to be transparent with the public.”
Meanwhile the chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) John McGuinness has called on the CRC to “come clean” on the payments to staff that were funded by charitable donations.
“The revelations about the misuse of charitable donations by the CRC to top-up the salaries of staff at the company is deeply concerning,” he said.
Mr McGuinness said the committee was awaiting a report from the HSE around the CRC’s funding which it expected to receive within the next week: “If we find it unsatisfactory we will call the CRC to appear before us,” he said.
“Before that, I am calling on the CRC to make a comprehensive statement and come clean on the payments to staff that were funded by charitable donations.
“This statement must be full and frank and cover every aspect of their funding and where the money is going. This is a source of considerable public concern and needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.
“The behaviour by the CRC is simply not good enough, the public will not accept it and I will not accept it. People give their hard earned money to charity with the expectation, in this instance, that it goes towards children and adults with a range of disabilities. This is a gross breach of public trust and the CRC must now explain itself in an open and transparent way.”