Public ‘lost trust’ in charities following ‘top-up’ scandals

Jack and Jill chief executive says organisations faced drastic drop in donations

Public contributions to Irish charities fell dramatically following controversy over payments for directors at the Central Remedial Clnic and Rehab, according to the chief executive of the Jack and Jill foundation.

But Jonathan Irwin also sought to defend the pay scale of high earning charity directors, saying the top-up payments controversy stemmed from a lack of transparency around pay structures rather than public outrage over wages.

"The every day contributions of €5 and the €10 fell by about 35 per cent, and it only started coming on stream again in November and coming into Christmas, " said Mr Irwin.

“The whole industry lost the trust of the public, and charities – however good their workings – must enjoy the total trust of the public,” he added.


Asked if salaries in excess of €100,000 a year were warranted, Mr Irwin said generous pay is necessary to attract high calibre candidates.

“Yes... At the moment I am looking for a successor. That in itself is a very difficult thing to find, but we can’t possibly offer him or her a derisory salary because they’ll say ‘Look, I’d love to do it but I’ve got this job in the ordinary commercial world and the figures don’t make any sense’.

“With some of the salaries, people wouldn’t print them in their annual reports or would hide them, and that was terrible. But with most charities like us our accounts are up [ONLINE], you’ve just got to be open,” he said.

Mr Irwin also called on Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to reinstate a higher level of lottery grant funding to Jack & Jill following a 60 per cent reduction in the foundation's allocation for 2015.

“I think he was very badly briefed because the tone of the letter we received was almost like ‘Dear Jonathan, you’ll be delighted with this letter because I’m going to give you €30,000’. He hadn’t been told that we had a track history of getting €75,000.

“It’s not very encouraging in the first month of the year to face a 60 per cent cut in your lottery funding... We save the State a fortune every year and we get so little from them,” he said.

He was speaking at the launch of the charity’s Pigs on Parade campaign, which will see 100 decorative fibre glass pigs released onto Dublin’s streets tomorrow in an effort to raise funds for the 300 children who rely on Jack & Jill services.

The pigs, which were designed by leading artists and designers, will be placed around various “top secret” city centre locations for the next five weeks before they’re auctioned to the public on March 21st .