Two further ISPCA board members resign as governance turmoil continues

Animal charity board member who resigned reports concerns to Charities Regulator

Earlier this year four board members resigned, following a high-profile legal dispute between the board’s chair, Fiona Squibb, and the charity’s then chief executive, Andrew Kelly. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Earlier this year four board members resigned, following a high-profile legal dispute between the board’s chair, Fiona Squibb, and the charity’s then chief executive, Andrew Kelly. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

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Two further directors have resigned from the board of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) in recent weeks, as the animal welfare charity continues to face significant governance turmoil.

One of the board members who has resigned has raised a number of concerns over the organisation’s governance with the Charities Regulator, The Irish Times understands.

Earlier this year four board members resigned, following a high-profile legal dispute between the board’s chair, Fiona Squibb, and the charity’s then chief executive, Andrew Kelly.

Ms Squibb, and another board member, Seamus Counihan, had been suspended pending the outcome of grievance procedures lodged by Mr Kelly.

Ms Squibb took a High Court action in March to overturn her suspension, claiming it had been unlawful, unfair and fundamentally flawed.

The judge in the case urged the chairwoman to seek to mediate the matter with the charity, and a number of days later both Ms Squibb and Mr Counihan were reinstated to the board.

Shortly afterwards Mr Kelly made a protected disclosure to the regulator, claiming the organisation’s board had “consistently failed” to meet governance standards, putting the charity at risk of “financial and reputational damage”.

Mr Kelly was fired as chief executive in late March, following his report to the regulator, and the charity has since made a settlement in an unfair dismissal case taken by him.

Concerns

Ronnie Hudson, a barrister, was brought on to the charity’s board as an external director, after a number of board resignations during the governance controversy.

However, in recent weeks Mr Hudson has resigned as a director of the charity. It is understood he has since written to the regulator to raise concerns about the organisation.

In a statement to The Irish Times, Mr Hudson said: “I am not in a position to tell you the reasons for my resignation; however, I did give the reasons for my resignation to the Charities Regulator.”

Mr Counihan, one of the board members involved in the dispute with the charity’s former chief executive, has also resigned from the board in recent weeks.

The charity currently has five remaining board members, who are each associated with local ISPCA volunteer groups, according to its website.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the ISPCA confirmed the two recent resignations from the board, and thanked both men for their contributions.

“The process is ongoing to recruit additional board members as quickly as possible in order to maintain our focus on tackling animal cruelty in Ireland,” the spokeswoman said.

The charity was “not in a position to make any further comment in relation to the matter”, she said.

“The ISPCA is compliant with the charities governance code and will continue to strengthen and advance our shared mission and commitment in protecting the welfare of all animals,” she said.

The charity runs three animal rescue and rehabilitation centres, and its inspectors respond to reports of animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment.

A spokeswoman for the regulator said it “does not comment or provide updates on open concerns as to do so could prejudice the work of a charity or the work of the regulator”.

The regulator received a number of emails in relation to the ISPCA in March and April, as the governance controversy played out publicly, and it wrote to the organisation in early April. Requests for copies of the correspondence, under the Freedom of Information Act, were denied by the regulator.

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