Article taken from RTE News
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee intends to write to the Irish Red Cross with the transcripts of today’s proceedings, during which a number of issues were raised.
The Secretary General of the Department of Defence Michael Howard was before the committee to answer questions on his department’s running.
However, he was questioned extensively on the Red Cross as the Minister of Defence appoints its chair and one third of the board, as well as giving €1m annually to the IRC.
The charity was subject to allegations of poor governance and financial irregularities in recent years.
Mr Howard said a number of changes in the governance of the organisation had been introduced and more were in train, such as the introduction of term limits of service on the board.
He was asked by Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy about the reappointment of two long standing board members recently after concerns had been expressed by the Minister about such a practice.
The secretary also said a very tight control framework on bank accounts had been introduced recently in the aftermath of concerns about the delay in the transfer of donations of over €162,000 from one branch in Tipperary.
Mr Howard emphasised that no financial irregularities had arisen in the case, but that the issue arose from an administrative failure.
He also said an allegation that €600,000 had not gone to its intended cause in Haiti was found to be groundless.
Mr Howard said a specific appeal for funds – such as the Haiti earthquake – was often accompanied by a general rise in contributions to the Irish branch.
A number of deputies expressed surprise that no representative of the Red Cross was present at the committee proceedings today.
The Secretary General said the State had no role in the management of the Red Cross and that it was not accountable to the Comptroller and Auditor General.
He said it had to produce audited accounts in the same way as other charities.
PAC Chairman John McGuinness said he would write to the Irish Red Cross with today’s proceedings highlighting any outstanding issues that were raised.