Sir, – I was interested to read that Ian Paisley jnr s been asked to reimburse £5,925 to the peace-building charity Cooperation Ireland (“Paisley says he ‘put himself out’ to fly first class to US event”, News, January 24th).
The money was paid to him by Cooperation Ireland for a return first-class air ticket to New York, where he was participating in a seminar on the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.
The payment raises questions, not only about Mr Paisley, but about why a charity that depends on voluntary contributions would pay for an expensive flight rather than insist that its guests travel in economy class. Your report prompts the question of whether other charities in Ireland and the UK are paying similar perks to their invited guests or to their staff, and whether the charity regulators in Ireland and the UK have any influence over such payments.
Perhaps requests by charities for donations should be accompanied by a “health warning” informing would-be donors that their money may be used for first-class flights, five-star hotels or other trappings of wealth. – Yours, etc,