A director of the homeless charity Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) is to ask the High Court to appoint an inspector to investigate the affairs of the charity.
In a sworn statement submitted to the court Ann Birney said the charity was in a perilous position and its reputation was in tatters. It follows serious allegations against its former CEO Anthony Flynn who died in August.
Ms Birney said the company is in an untenable position with no executive directors or a standing chairman. It also has a significant amount of money in its bank account.
She was anxious to ensure a comprehensive investigation is carried out into the company's affairs which will either restore confidence in or make clear it ought to cease trading.
In her sworn statement Ms Birney, from Grange Road in Dublin, said "the good work and important services" provided by the company should continue for the benefit of vulnerable people.
However, she said this would not be possible unless its reputation could be clarified by a full investigation and recommendations made about its future.
Lawyers for the ICHH today secured permission from the court to issue proceedings the appointment of an inspector under the Companies Act.
Senior Counsel Paul McGarry said the matter had "a degree of urgency" as the charity had been subject to a lot of media coverage and comment over the summer and there had been "significant changes at the top".
He said the act requires the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) to be notified of the application for an inspector.
The ODCE had been written to on Monday last, he said. The charities regulator would also be formally notified of the application, the court heard.
The ICHH company was incorporated in March 2014 and had traded without much controversy until the situation "changed dramatically" about July 2021.
Ms Birney said she wanted to make clear, before setting out what has happened, that there is an ongoing garda investigation into the affairs of the company and she had no wish to jeopardise that by anything she might say.
She said the company's former chairman David Hall had produced a detailed report setting out what has happened at the company since July 2021 and a significant amount of the factual matters set out derived from his report.
The charities regulator had written to the company and board on 30 July last, she said, asking if they were aware of any complaints of sexual exploitation of vulnerable homeless women being made against any staff, volunteers or anyone associated with the charity.
That prompted various discussions between the directors, Mr Hall and Mr Flynn. The latter held a meeting with the staff about the regulator’s letter.
At a board meeting on 4 August, Mr Flynn had assured the board that no complaints of inappropriate behaviour, or complaints about the sexual exploitation of vulnerable homeless women had been made, she said.
A letter to that effect was sent to the regulator by Mr Hall, having first been agreed by the board.
On the same day, 5 August, the CEO and Mr Hall received an email from the person making the allegations.
She said the email made serious allegations against an individual and indicated gardaí were investigating the complaint. The email was copied to the regulator, the Dublin Homeless Executive and the HSE.
Ms Birney said she understood there was then a call between Mr Hall and the CEO during which she understood Mr Flynn again denied any knowledge of an investigation.
On 6 August Mr Hall called the gardaí and asked to speak to somebody about the allegations that had been made, she said.
Mr Hall was informed by a Detective Sergeant on 7 August complaints had been made against the then CEO and the Sgt sought certain information from the company.
Mr Hall had then written to Mr Flynn suspending him following the non-disclosure of the allegations made against him and Mr Hall also sought legal advice.
On 8 August, Mr Flynn had said he was stepping back from the company.
Mr Hall took further steps, including updating the charities regulator about what had transpired and engaging with gardaí and the board.
A board meeting on 17 August resolved to appoint external lawyers and to request Remy Farrell SC to commence an investigation. Prior to that, on 12 August, the charity was getting requests for information from media.
On 18 August, Ms Birney said she was informed Mr Flynn had died in tragic circumstances.
Mr Hall had later in August made a further statement to gardaí and handed over certain information requested by them. Mr Hall resigned from the company on 26 August.
Ms Birney said several other board members have resigned, by the end of last week she was potentially the only director left but Mr Peter Watson has agreed, in the interim, to continue to act as a director.
The case returns to court on 14 October.