Regulator ‘cannot force’ disclosure of charity executive salaries

Chairman designate Patrick Hopkins says power would be ‘helpful’ for transparency

Patrick Hopkins of the Charities Regulatory Authority told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice  he believes the salary and bonuses of charity chief executives should be highlighted.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Patrick Hopkins of the Charities Regulatory Authority told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice he believes the salary and bonuses of charity chief executives should be highlighted. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The body charged with regulating charities has no power to force them to disclose the salaries of their chief executives, its chairman designate has told an Oireachtas committee.

Patrick Hopkins of the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice the power to force charities to disclose remuneration packages would be “helpful” in terms of creating transparency, but that the body currently could not do that.

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins asked if it was the intention of the authority that charities would break out the remuneration packages of their chief executives.

He said he had seen cases where staff salaries were included in accounts but were not broken down in a way that identified this figure.

“Is that something you intend to address in terms of bringing about the trust and confidence of people?”

Best practice

Mr Hopkins said the guidelines being drawn up would suggest what should be included in charities’ returns as a matter of best practice. His view was that the salary and bonuses of the chief executive should be highlighted.

“We probably don’t have an enforcement role in it but we are certainly recommending very strongly that it would be the case.”

Mr Hopkins told Mr Collins the regulator did not currently have the power to disclose the salaries of chief executives of a charity. Asked whether he would like to have such power, he said it would probably be “helpful” as another “spoke in the wheel of transparency and regulation”.

The regulator’s chief executive Úna Ní Dhubhghaill said in May that the majority of registered charities had not yet engaged with the body.

She revealed just short of 3,500 charities of the 8,500 on the register had engaged with her office to date.

Of the 3,500 charities who have engaged with the process between 150 and 200 have supplied the regulator with all the necessary information.

Independent TD Finian McGrath put it to Mr Hopkins that the public was “very sceptical” of donating to charities in the wake of the Rehab and Central Remedial Clinic scandals.

“People want to know their few euro is going directly where they intend it,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said the regulator was preparing guidelines for the charities sector and that they would be required to make returns which would be published on its website.