Judge criticises charity chiefs as two fined over illegally collecting funds for Barnardos

‘I am absolutely amazed at this letter from Barnardos’, Judge Kilrane tells Donegal District Court

Photograph: Frank Miller /	THE IRISH TIMES

Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES


A judge on Monday hit out at charities chiefs when two men admitted illegally collecting funds for Barnardos.

Judge Kevin Kilrane was told of a letter from Barnardos welcoming a fund-raiser.

Donegal District Court heard that Jonathan Sweeney (20) and Martin Nevin (24), sharing the same address at Caltragh Crescent, Sligo, offered to do a sponsored swim for Barnardos.

They collected with a bucket and wearing T-shirts for the charity in the street at the Diamond, Donegal town.

Inspector Denis Joyce said the two men were asked for their authorisation to collect. This would be issued by a Garda Chief Supt.

The men instead produced a letter from Barnardos acknowledging participation in a sponsored swim and expressing thanks for making the charity the beneficiary.

Judge Kilrane said: “I am absolutely amazed at this letter from Barnardos.

“The charity business in Ireland has been the subject of comment for a number of years.”

He said CEOs in the charities were “getting paid and double paid”. He added: “It appears to be a complete and utter rip-off.”

The judge said: “Irish people are very generous but they depend on chief executives to create a system which is foolproof and make it quite clear what the needs are.”

He said the public expected that collectors be utterly vetted and the correct permits be in place before people were authorised to collect.

He said the Barnardos letter appeared to be a carte blanche, saying, “Here’s the T-shirt, go out and collect.”

He imposed fines of €300 on Sweeney and Nevin who admitted holding an unauthorised collection October 30th, 2016.