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Mac Lochlainn deeply alarmed at lack of resources for Charities Regulator

27 July, 2015 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, has said that he is deeply alarmed at revelations by the Charities Regulator that it is severely understaffed and lacking in the resources required to carry out its statutory functions.

Speaking today, Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

 “In the wake of the excessive pay and gold-plated pension scandals at CRC and Rehab last year, Sinn Féin introduced a Private Members Bill which called on the Government to fully enact the 2009 Charities Act. The Government committed to a speedy setting up of the Regulator and to ensure that the Regulator was adequately resourced to carry out its functions. The fact that the Charities Act is still not fully enacted 18 months later and that the Regulator is claiming it is critically under-resourced, is inexcusable.”

“Since the foundation of this state charities have been unregulated. The effect of this is that it is now doing untold damage both to the charities themselves but also to all of the vulnerable people who depend on them.”

“The original purpose of the Charities Act 2009 was to reform the law relating to charities. It aimed to ensure greater accountability, offer protection against abuse of charitable status and fraud and also to enhance public trust and confidence in charities and increase transparency in the sector.”

“The Act provided for the creation of a new charities regulation infrastructure; a Charities Regulator, a Register of Charities, Consultative Panels to advise the Regulator and the Charity Appeals Tribunal and the act laid down, for the first time in primary legislation, a definition of charitable purposes.”

“However, after publishing this shiny piece of legislation to regulate the Charities sector, Fianna Fáil never implemented it, thereby failing the charities and public confidence in them.”

“Labour and Fine Gael have had four years to rectify this by fully enacting all the provisions contained within the Act but instead they rested on their laurels, allowing scandal after scandal until it got so big they had no option but to agree to the establishment of a regulatory authority. It now transpires that they too have followed the Fianna Fáil lead by not providing the adequate resources and thereby failing the sector yet again.”

“The most vulnerable in our society are already suffering massively due to the deeply unfair and unjust cutbacks implemented by this government.”

“The failure to fund many schemes which so many of our most marginalised people depended on has meant that more and more people were relying on charities for their very survival. The scandals which have erupted have, understandably, had a hugely negative effect on public confidence which has led to a dip in donations to charities.”

“The charity sector is vital in creating a fair recovery in this State and the Regulator should be supported if public confidence and donation levels are to be restored.”

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