Over 150 Irish charities have agreed to be bound by a new voluntary code of practice.

Its authors describe the code as "a tool to demonstrate trustworthiness".

They have also called on the Government to implement the 2009 Charities Act, which provides for State regulation.

The first governance code for non-profit organisations provides clear guidelines on the roles, duties and responsibilities of those who run community, voluntary or charitable organisations.

Among other guidelines, it deals with conflicts of interests which directors may face.

It took three years for a working group of eight charities to develop.

Deirdre Garvey, who chaired the group, told representatives of 400 organisations at this morning's launch in Dublin's Mansion House that to maintain the public trust they depend on, it is essential that charities uphold high standards of accountability and transparency.

Launching the code, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan warned that the Government cannot continue to support organisations which fail to demonstrate good governance or value for money.

The working group called on the Government to implement as soon as possible the sections of the 2009 Charities Act which provide for state regulation.

Earlier this year Minister Alan Shatter announced that, currently, the Government had no money to do this.

Ms Garvey said that, in the absence of adequate regulation, the sector had shown great initiative by developing the voluntary code, particularly when many charities are struggling with funding and an increasing demand for their services.

INKEx to cease trading

Meanwhile, it has been announced that the Irish Nonprofits Knowledge Exchange (INKEx) is to go into voluntary liquidation.

A company statement was critical of the decision by Ministers Alan Shatter and Phil Hogan to turn down an offer from a private philanthropist to consider matching any public funding that might be provided for the next three years.

Between 2009 and 2011, INKEx built the first-ever and only comprehensive data repository for the non-profit sector.

It included digitised governance and financial information on more than 8,000 public benefit companies.

It was compiled and updated daily by re-using public information and publishing it on a free, searchable public website.

The portal was a one-stop shop where the public could review the compliance of any non-profit with a variety of codes, such as the fundraising or governance best practice standards, child protection regulations and Garda registration.

The company's Chief Executive Patricia Quinn says it was plunged into a crisis in 2011 when Minister Alan Shatter announced without notice that a three-year public funding programme was being withdrawn a year ahead of schedule.

INKEx says it was able to trade for the first half of 2012 thanks to donations from charities, philanthropies and private companies and from data sales.