American Ireland Funds charity paid former CEO $645,000 last year

David Cronin stepped down from his role at the philanthropic organisation in May 2020

The American Ireland Funds paid its former chief executive David Cronin $645,107 (€569,661) for five months’ work last year, according to documents filed in the United States.

Mr Cronin stepped down from his role as chief executive and president of the charity in May 2020 after a short time in the post.

Documentation lodged by the philanthropic organisation with the US tax authorities shows that the $645,107 package included a severance payout of $275,004 to Mr Cronin, as “per his voluntary separation agreement”.

Mr Cronin took up the role in June 2019 after his appointment in April of that year and left the organisation in May 2020.

It was reported at the time that Mr Cronin was leaving the New York-based role to return to Ireland for family reasons.

Prior to his appointment with the fund, Mr Cronin had raised $100 million in his role as chief executive of the University of Limerick Foundation for more than a decade.

Mr Cronin’s pay for 2020 also included a bonus of $70,000. His basic pay totalled $286,767 and he received $13,336 in non-taxable benefits.

Mr Cronin received remuneration of $345,522 for the period between June 2019 and the end of that year. This included a basic salary of $250,962 and a bonus of $80,000.

Successor

On the 2020 severance payment, a spokeswoman for the fund said: “The payment was pursuant to Mr Cronin’s employment contract, which was subject to review and approval by the compensation committee of the board, and included an analysis by an outside compensation consultant to benchmark with similar US non-government organisations/charity organisations.”

Mr Cronin was replaced by Caitriona Fottrell, who took up her post on June 30th, 2020 and was paid $237,274 for the year. This included basic pay of $211,414.

Prior to her appointment, Ms Fottrell was the vice-president of The Ireland Funds, having worked with the organisation continuously since 1993.

The base pay in 2020 for the fund’s chief financial and administrative officer, Conall McGonagle, totalled $287,437.

In 2018 the fund was convulsed when it emerged that $711,560 was allegedly embezzled by an employee in 2015-2017.

Fundraising

The trial of the former female employee was due to commence in February 2020. However, a spokeswoman for the fund confirmed that due to Covid-19 the trial date has been adjourned into 2022 “and has yet to be confirmed”.

Last year the fund increased its revenues by 13.5 per cent to $20.8 million in spite of the cancellation of fundraising events due to Covid restrictions. Income from these events reduced by 47 per cent to $3.95 million.

The spokeswoman said: “Despite the difficult conditions and the cancellation of in-person fundraising events in Q2-Q4 2020, our donors responded and continued to generously and strongly support the various programmes of The Ireland Funds throughout the 32 counties. We are very grateful for their continued support.”

She said donors continue to “strongly support” its work and the fund expects its revenue this year to be “generally in line with 2020”.

The fund’s grant awards for last year increased by 13 per cent to $14.3 million, while an additional $1.4 million was spent on other programme services.

The fund is part of the Worldwide Ireland Funds that were founded in 1976 by Sir Anthony O’Reilly and former US ambassador to Ireland, the late Dan Rooney, and have raised more than $600 million for worthy causes.