Sinn Féin has brought forward legislation for debate in the Dáil next week which if supported will force the government to establish a new Charity Regulatory Authority by May of this year.
Speaking today, Sinn Féin Justice and Equality Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said;
“Fianna Fáil in government enacted the Charities Bill in 2009 but did not commence its provisions consigning the legislation to its shelves of empty promises.
“On taking up his position as Justice and Equality Minister in 2011 Alan Shatter said he couldn’t see how the government could fully implement the Charities Act citing the costs involved. Of course the question now, as it was then, is can we as a society afford not to have proper regulatory oversight of the charity sector.
“One of the key provisions of the Charities Act is the establishment of a Charity Regulatory Authority which would ensure much greater accountability and transparency across the sector.
“There is no doubt that public trust and confidence in the charity sector has been damaged due to a small number of organisations. Revelations of generous salary top-up payments and gold-plated pensions paid from charitable funds at the Oireachtas PAC Committee hearings are proof that the sector needs urgent regulation.
“Sinn Féin recognises the enormous good work that the majority of the charity sector is engaged in across this state and the damage a few bad apples will cause for these organisations fundraising if government fails to step up quickly.
“Across the state it is charities that are holding our communities together by providing a range of essential health, educational and children and youth services, which families increasingly rely on as government slashes public service budgets.
“The vast majority of organisations in the sector must be applauded and actively supported for their hard work in trying to mitigate against the worst social impacts of austerity on families and communities.”
“Government must fulfil their responsibility and act to restore public trust and confidence by establishing and fully resourcing the Charity Regulatory Authority without delay. It must ensure those small few who have abused the system feel the full weight of the law.”