The organisation in charge of regulating charities has said it cannot guarantee that all funds given to charities are being used in the manner in which they were intended due to a lack of staff. 

Helen Martin, CEO of the Charities Regulatory Authority, told the Public Accounts Committee today, that they do not have the capacity or resources and are relying on concerns being raised. 

She was being questioned by Labour's Health Spokesperson Alan Kelly, who said that this was a "significant statement" and he said he could not see how the Authority could regulate 10,000 charities with the resources it has. 

Ms Martin also told the Committee that it had received over 686 concerns last year - an increase of 29% on the previous year. 

She said that over 50% related to internal financial controls and transparency and other governance issues. 

Ms Martin said that this included requests to provide information or produce books, documents and other records.

She said the Authority had imposed intermediate sanctions on one registered charity. 

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane said he is concerned that the regulator does not have access to charities' internal audit reports. 

In response, Ms Martin said that when concerns are raised about a charity they can go in and ask to see the audit reports. 

Asked if an auditor is obliged to report a problem to the regulator, Ms Martin said that if there is a suspicion of theft or fraud it would have to be notified. 

However, she said there were no requirements to report lapses in governance or financial control, which she admitted is a concern. 

Independent TD Catherine Connolly asked if a risk assessment had been carried out to identify the areas that are suffering as a result of a lack of staff. 

In response, Ms Martin said they could do more proactive monitoring if they had more staff and "drill down" into risk factors in charities. 

She also said staff in charities could submit any concerns anonymously. 

Sinn Féin's Imelda Munster said there is nothing to say that the Console scandal is not happening again.

Responding Ms Martin this does concern her and she said that is why they want to introduce proactive monitoring. 

Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry asked if there was a conflict of interest by having the CEO of the Irish Wheelchair Association on the board of the Authority. 

He said:"If our starting point is to make the fox head of security for the hen house it doesn't give the hens much confidence."

In response, Charities Regulator Head of Registration, Eamon O’Halloran, said a conflict of interest could arise but he said it would not be enough to stop them from participating