Irish Red Cross appoints six new board members


THE IRISH Red Cross Society has appointed six new members to its 14-strong board of directors as part of what it describes as a process of “change and renewal”.

Elections among the society’s general assembly took place over the weekend under a new constitution which allowed members – rather than the Government – to elect the chair of the organisation for the first time in its history.

Under the new rules, David O’Callaghan, former secretary general of the Department of Defence, was elected chairman for a three-year term. Mr O’Callaghan has served as chairman of the group since 2010, after he was appointed by the previous government.

Tom Horwell, a long-serving member of the Irish Red Cross and manager with the Health Service Executive’s national ambulance service, has been appointed vice-president.

The role of treasurer went to Denis Reeves, a chartered accountant, while Barry O’Donovan, a long-time member of the society, was appointed secretary.

Other board positions went to Mary Flaherty, former TD and current chief executive of children’s charity CARI, and Máirtín Ó Fainín, who recently served as Irish ambassador to Australia.

In the coming weeks, under provisions included in the new constitution of the society, the chairman will appoint a further two candidates to the board of directors.

“I am delighted to see such a wealth of talent with an appropriate balance of internal and external experience on the board of the Irish Red Cross,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“We are working through a very ambitious programme of change and renewal and I look forward to working with the new board to ensure that the society continues to be a leader in the provision of humanitarian support at home and abroad.”

The Irish Red Cross has been at the centre of controversy over allegations of financial irregularities and poor corporate management, particularly over funds collected for the Asian tsunami in 2005.

A report commissioned by the charity found the charity had serious deficiencies in its accounting procedures. However, the charity says it has since improved its systems and that “every cent” donated following the natural disaster has gone to relief projects in the areas affected.

Noel Wardick, former head of the international department with the charity, was fired for “gross misconduct” in November 2010 after publicising many of these issues. Mr Wardick, who has reached a settlement with the charity, yesterday said the appointment of six new members to the board was a very positive development.