Minister urged to seek reform of Red Cross

 

THE IRISH Red Cross whistleblower who was sacked after he revealed he was the author of an anonymous blog that discussed financial management and governance concerns within the organisation has called on Minister for Defence Tony Killeen to demand reform of the body.

Noel Wardick, a former head of international development at the Irish Red Cross (IRC), was suspended in August and then fired in mid-November. He has begun an appeal against his dismissal.

“It is incumbent on the Government and the Minister to intervene, temporarily, to rectify the situation,” said Mr Wardick.

He argued that reputational damage was being caused to the IRC and now to the global Red Cross movement “as a result of our deep, deep inadequacies”.

Mr Killeen, who has responsibility for the IRC and appoints its chairman, has refused to intervene in the long-running controversy stemming from allegations of poor governance and financial irregularities within the organisation.

Last year, barrister Jennifer Bulbulia resigned from the IRC’s central council, citing concerns over accountability and transparency. The charity receives almost €1 million annually in State funding.

Mr Wardick also called on the International Federation of the Red Cross in Geneva to “directly and actively” intervene to “finally put to bed this situation that has embarrassed the Red Cross movement for more than 20 years”.

Mr Wardick’s decision to reveal his identity as the author of the blog came shortly after internet service provider UPC was forced to comply with a court order to supply details about him to the IRC. Mr Wardick described the charity’s attempts to establish the identity of the blogger as a “vindictive, obsessive witch hunt”. The blog highlighted what he called the “rot” within the IRC.

In a statement, the Irish Red Cross said Mr Wardick’s employment “was terminated with effect from November 10th, 2010, following a disciplinary process. The decision is currently under appeal and in those circumstances, the Irish Red Cross will not be commenting further on the matter at this time.”