Fine Gael TD for Dublin Rathdown, and member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Josepha Madigan, has said that the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) should be invited to appear before PAC in light of recent controversies in the charity sector.
“Like so many people I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about the misuse of funds at Console, which were exposed by a HSE audit. It is vital that public trust in charities is respected and maintained. When that trust breaks down it undermines all charities unfairly.
“As a newly appointed member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) I would like to see the Chair of the Board and the CEO of the Charities Regulatory Authority appear at PAC to discuss its role as watchdog in the charities sector.
“The establishment of the CRA in 2014 by the last Government was a very welcome move in terms of bringing increased transparency to the charities sector. I believe it would be beneficial for all concerned, particularly those who donate to charities, if PAC could hear from the CRA and examine its role and powers. As a relatively new organisation, it would be very informative for the Committee, and indeed the public, to have a better understanding of the role of the CRA.
“Charities registered with the CRA have their accounts published on its website and I would like to discuss with the Chairman and the CEO of the CRA what powers exist in situations where there is an allegation of misuse of funds within a charity. I would like to examine whether uniform guidelines on bookkeeping could be introduced and made mandatory. I would also like to know how quickly the CRA can act when a complaint is made.
“I would also like to see if the office of CRA would benefit from increased statutory powers. I note that it currently does not have the legal power to carry out statutory investigations of charities as this power has not yet commenced under the statute.
“Charities are vital to our civil society; they attract public money and private donations and are tax exempt. If there is misuse of funds then this needs to be tackled in a robust and effective manner as soon as credible concerns are raised.”