Director of ICHH seeks court appointed investigation into abuse allegations

Ann Birney says reputation of homeless charity ‘in tatters’ after ‘extremely serious’ allegations

The reputation of the Dublin-based homeless charity, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) is “in tatters”, the High Court has been told by a director of the company.

Seeking the appointment of an inspector to investigate the affairs of the charity and report on its operations and future, Ann Birney said “extremely serious” allegations have been made against its founder, Anthony Flynn

The charity is now in a a “perilous” and “untenable” position, she said in affidavit: “At this juncture nothing has been proven, however, the reputation of the company is in tatters.

The “good work and important services” offered by ICHH should continue to be provided “ but that will not be possible unless its reputation can be clarified by a full investigation and recommendations made as to its future,” she said


Paul McGarry SC, with Ross Gorman BL, for ICHH, secured liberty from Mr Justice Michael Quinn on Friday to issue a motion seeking the appointment, under section 747 of the Companies Act, of Remy Farrell SC as inspector. The judge returned the matter to October 14th.

Mr McGarry said the matter has “a degree of urgency”, the charity had been subject to a lot of media coverage and comment over the summer and there had been “significant changes at the top”.

He said the Act requires the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to be put on notice of the application for an inspector, under the Companies Act, and his side had written to the ODCE on Monday last. The charities regulator would also be formally notified of the application, counsel added.

The application, for appointment of the inspector to ICCH Ltd, follows controversy over sexual assault allegations made against Mr Flynn. Mr Flynn, who died in August, had been under investigation by gardaí in relation to two alleged sexual assaults. In recent weeks, another two men claimed they had also been sexually assaulted by him.

Mr Flynn was a founder of the ICHH and an Independent councillor on Dublin City Council.


In her affidavit, Ms Birney, of The Beeches, Grange Road, Dublin 13, said the ICHH company was incorporated in March 2014 and had traded without much controversy until the situation “changed dramatically” about July 2021.

She wanted to make clear, before setting out what has happened, she has had regard to the fact there is an ongoing Garda investigation into the affairs of the company and had no wish to jeopardise that by anything she might say in the affidavit.

She said the company’s former chairman David Hall had produced a detailed report setting out what has happened at the company since July 2021 and a significant amount of the factual matters set out in her affidavit were derived from his report.

The charities regulator had written to the company and board on July 30th last asking whether they were aware of any complaints of sexual exploitation of vulnerable homeless women being made against any staff, volunteers or anyone associated with the charity, she said.

That prompted various discussions between the directors, Mr Hall and Mr Flynn. The latter also had a meeting with the staff about the regulator’s letter.

At a board meeting on August 4th, Mr Flynn had assured the board that no complaints of inappropriate behaviour, or complaints about the sexual exploitation of vulnerable homeless women had been made, she said. A letter to that effect was sent to the regulator by Mr Hall, having first been agreed by the board, on August 5th.

On the same day, the CEO and Mr Hall received an email from the person making the allegations the regulator had referred to in his letter, she said. The email made serious allegations against an individual and indicated gardaí were investigating the complaint. The email was copied to the regulator, the Dublin Homeless Executive and the HSE.

Ms Birney said she understood there was then a call between Mr Hall and the CEO during which she understood Mr Flynn again denied any knowledge of an investigation.

Mr Hall on August 6th called the gardaí and asked to speak to somebody about the allegations that had been made, she said. Mr Hall was informed by a detective sergeant on August 7th complaints had been made against the then CEO and the detective sought certain information from the company.

Mr Hall had then written to Mr Flynn suspending him following the non-disclosure of the allegations made against him and Mr Hall also sought legal advice.

On August 8th, Mr Flynn had said he was stepping back from the company.

Further steps

Mr Hall took further steps, including updating the charities regulator about what had transpired and engaging with gardaí and the board. A board meeting on August 17th resolved to appoint external lawyers and to request Remy Farrell SC to commence an investigation. Prior to that, on August 12th, the charity was getting requests for information from media.

On August 18th, Ms Birney said she was informed Mr Flynn had died in tragic circumstances.

Mr Hall had later in August made a further statement to gardaí and handed over certain information requested by them. Mr Hall resigned from the company on August 26th.

Ms Birney said several other board members have resigned, by the end of last week she was potentially the only director left but Mr Peter Watson has agreed, in the interim, to continue to act as a director.

The company is in “an untenable position” with no executive directors or a standing chairman. It also has a “significant amount” of money in its bank account.

She is anxious to ensure “a comprehensive investigation” is carried out into the company’s affairs which will either restore confidence in or make clear it ought to cease trading.

While Mr Farrell has been appointed by the company to carry out an investigation, the reality is that will be seen as an internal matter with limited powers, she said. The appointment of a statutory inspector “will ensure that a proper and thorough investigation is carried out”.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times