The Secretary General of the Red Cross, Paul Lynch, has responded to today's call by its staff for an independent investigation into the running of the charity. In a statement, Mr Lynch said that the Irish Red Cross Society, with the assistance of an outside consultant, is nearing the completion of a strategic review. He said that the review's implementation would necessarily involve change for volunteers and staff.
However, a spokesperson for the workforce said that they did not believe the review was truly independent. The representative said that the investigation staff would need to look at the overall structures of the organisation, starting at the very top.
Most of the permanent staff of the Irish Red Cross have called on the Government to set up an inquiry into the running of the organisation. In an exclusive interview with RTÉ News, the staff members of what is regarded as one of the most prestigious charities in the country, say that they are taking this step in an effort to protect the integrity of the organisation. They also want the 1939 Act, which set up the Red Cross, amended to bring it into line with modern practices.
The Irish Red Cross is almost 60-years-old, but today morale at its headquarters, at Merrion Square in Dublin, is at an all time low according to the majority of those who work there. Last night, in an unprecedented public revolt, nine of the staff came together for RTÉ News to call on the Government to set up an investigation into the running of the charity.
The Red Cross, whose patron is the President of Ireland, comes under the aegis of the Department of Defence. Last year, it received over £500,000 from the state. It also collects millions of pounds every year for disaster relief. The staff is not claiming any impropriety in the handling of donations, but they say that on occasions, there has been a 'slowness' in sending out funds specifically collected for emergency relief.
In the last two years, the organisation has lost almost half of its senior staff, including its Secretary General, the public relations officer, a youth director and a fund-raiser and a clerical officer. In October of this year, the sacking of the financial controller led to calls for his reinstatement from the majority of the staff. A case is now being taken against the charity for unfair dismissal. Staff also claim that deep divisions have emerged between the permanent staff and the executive over the running of the organisation.