Voluntary charity code announced

Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 01:00

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has been urged to use his influence to ensure the implementation of the Charities Act that was passed in 2009 but has not been enacted in full.

The appeal came from Deirdre Garvey, the chairwoman of the group that developed a new voluntary governance code to promote transparency in the charity sector. Mr Hogan unveiled the code today.

“It’s extremely frustrating . . . to see the implementation of the Charities Act more or less abandoned, and what we need is commencement,” Ms Garvey said.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter last month confirmed legislation that would require charities to make their financial information public has been deferred for cost reasons.

Ms Garvey said there was no lack of interest in or fear of transparency within the sector. Addressing Mr Hogan, she said: “We look to you, Minister, to use your influence if you may with the Minister responsible for the Charities Act, Minister Shatter, to convey the absolute importance to our sector of the commencement of the Charities Act.”

Mr Hogan said he would convey Ms Garvey’s view to Mr Shatter.

He said an important aspect of the code was that it had been developed for the sector and by the sector. He said the level of governance in the community and voluntary sector was not uniform. All organisations needed to make better decisions and better investments, and to demonstrate how this was being done, Mr Hogan said.

“We cannot continue to support organisations that fail to demonstrate good governance or good value for money,” he warned. However, he described the new code as “wonderful” and said it would give more people confidence to participate in the community and voluntary sector because they could be sure organisations wanted to implement best practice.

According to Ms Garvey, 150 organisations have confirmed in writing that they will sign up to the code. She said 60 per cent of money coming into the sector came from various State agencies.