Goal timeline: From small beginnings to Ireland’s largest aid agency

Organisation, under fire over Syrian operation, began in 1977 after a £10,000 donation


1977 – Goal is founded by John O’Shea using a IR£10,000 donation. The money funds a feeding project in Calcutta, India.

1979 – Goal is one of the first charities to enter Cambodia in the wake of the genocide. It also begins work in Uganda, responding to famine.

1986 – The charity has moved into Ethiopia at the height of the famine. Income for the charity is not available but outlay figures on its website, show it spent more than €1.3 million on humanitarian projects

1992 – O’Shea leaves journalism to concentrate full-time on the charity.

1993 – Outlay figures on its website, show it spent more than €11 million on humanitarian projects

1996 – Goal moves from being a trust to operating as a company.

1997 – The Department of Foreign Affairs suspends funding to the charity in July, after an investigation by the EU fraud unit identified possible irregularities in the agency’s accounts. The charity’s accounts show it had a total income of almost €3.8 million. Funding is resumed the following year.

2000 – Accounts show an income of almost €22 million.

2005 – Niall O’Dowd of the Irish Voice newspaper and Declan Kelly, a New York-based public relations consultant, both members of the US board of the charity, resign in protest after comments by O’Shea. He had criticised government plans to donate €1 million to the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The charity’s total income in this year was €83.2 million.

2009 – Goal aid worker Sharon Commins and her Ugandan colleague Hilda Kawuki are kidnapped in Darfur. They are released unharmed three months later and suggestions that a ransom of €150,000 was paid are denied.

2012 – Goal goes into Syria following the outbreak of the civil war. Its total income for the year is €60.5 million. In August, O’Shea resigns as chief executive, following a High Court case, in which he tried to prevent the board from removing him. Barry Andrews, former Fianna Fáil minister for children, is appointed head of the organisation.

2014 – Accounts show an income of €126.9 million and Syria has become the charity’s largest operation.

2015 – Accounts show the charity had an income of €210 million, making it comfortably the biggest Irish aid agency.

2016 – In April, it emerges the US is investigating alleged fraud involving the Irish aid agency’s operation in Syria. The investigation centres on alleged bribery and bid-rigging, relating to the buying of items for distribution in the war-torn country. In late June, the Department of Foreign Affairs holds back almost €3 million in funding, pending clarity on the US investigation. Andrews tells the board he will resign in August.

2016 October – News of Andrews’ resignation becomes public.