Concern Worldwide and Gorta Self Help Africa may merge

Irish aid agencies are in discussions after board approval of move

Two Irish development agencies, Concern Worldwide and Gorta Self Help Africa, are in formal discussions about a merger. The boards of both agencies approved the move but, as membership-based charities, they will seek approval from members.

Gorta Self Help Africa will consider the proposal at its annual general meeting today. The agency's chairman, former Fianna Fáil minister of state Tom Kitt, said there would be no vote on the issue today but the 80 or so members would discuss the merger of the agencies, which have a combined annual budget of about €140 million.

Mr Kitt said they had “agreed to enter a process of discussion with Concern” but an extraordinary general meeting was expected in November at which the final decision would be made.

Combined impact

He acknowledged that “one or two people” were anxious Concern could “swallow us up” but he said the board decided almost unanimously to enter formal discussions and they had an opportunity to have a bigger impact.


Concern Worldwide chief executive Dominic MacSorley said they held discussions with Gorta two years ago about combining forces. Gorta then merged with Self Help in 2013 as part of the ongoing consolidation in the Irish sector. Fresh discussions began earlier this year and a proposal that a merger would be of value to the two agencies was presented to both boards in June and approved.

Due diligence

Mr MacSorley said due diligence was taking place over the next number of months and then Concern would seek the approval of its members.

Gorta Self Help Africa chief executive Ray Jordan said the agency had worked through previous mergers, between Self Help Development International and Harvest UK six years ago, which became Self Help Africa and then the subsequent merger with Gorta.

Concern works in 28 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and in Haiti and has some 3,000 employees and an annual budget of €120 million. Two-thirds of its operations are in Africa. Gorta Self Help Africa has a budget close to €20 million, a staff of 241 and operates in six countries. Between them, the agencies receive State, EU, British and US government funding as well as public donations.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times