Homeless charity suspends employee amid inquiry over ‘serious matters’

Garda investigation under way as charities regulator is contacted

Jack Horgan-Jones and Conor Gallagher

A prominent homeless charity has suspended an employee and appointed a senior counsel to examine “serious matters” that came to the attention of the board.

A related Garda investigation is under way.

In addition, the charities regulator has been contacted.

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In a statement on Thursday evening, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) said that in recent days “serious matters have come to the attention of the board”.

“We immediately initiated an investigation and commenced and independent process which we expect recommendations from shortly,” the charity’s chairman, David Hall, told The Irish Times.

“In the interim, we have suspended an employee and the use of a separate service provider. The board has moved to appoint an independent senior counsel, Mr Remy Farrell to fully evaluate issues of concern. We are in communication with the charities regulator.”

It is understood the Garda investigation is at an early stage.

The ICHH group was founded in 2013 and focuses on outreach programmes working with homeless people in Dublin’s inner city.

Mr Hall said: “The board is mindful of the vital role our team of volunteers and staff play in the daily lives of those sleeping rough in Dublin. We are grateful to them and our wider network of supporters. We as a board will continue to take whatever steps are necessary at this time to protect and enhance the invaluable work of the organisation and the welfare of all service users.”

In a communication to staff and volunteers on Thursday evening, Mr Hall wrote that the board expects that these matters will “be the subject of media reports, potentially from tomorrow.

“We have put in place measures to ensure that our reputation is protected during this period. The board is mindful of the vital role that you, our staff and our team of volunteers play in the daily lives of those sleeping rough in Dublin. We are grateful to you and our wider network of supporters.”

Staff and volunteers were told that while it is appreciated “how difficult and unwelcome this sudden situation is”, the board will “continue to take whatever steps are necessary at this time to protect and enhance the invaluable work of the organisation and the welfare of all service users.

“We will continue to keep you updated and available should any of you wish to contact us. This is a difficult situation for everyone and I assure you, I as chairperson, supported by the full board will do everything to protect the brilliant and vital work you do.”

The ICHH group was founded in November 2013 and focuses on outreach programmes working with homeless people in Dublin’s inner city. Its offices are at Amiens Street in Dublin city centre.

According to its most recently filed accounts, over 200 volunteers work with the charity, which was established “as a result of the increased number of people sleeping rough around Dublin city”.

At the end of 2019, it had a surplus of €85,6000 and assets of €308,610. In 2019, the charity recorded income of €466,293, up from €353,574, with expenditure coming in at €380,693. It had cash and cash equivalents totalling €246,762 on its balance sheet at the end of the year. Turnover for the year is “made up entirely of donations”, according to the company’s accounts.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times