· CRA now playing a crucial role in the sector
· Minister commends “the swift and decisive action taken on Console”
· “Good governance as important in charity sector as in all other walks of life”
18 July 2017
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan has warmly welcomed today’s launch of the Charities Regulatory Authority’s Annual Report for 2016 http://bit.ly/2uEnoeo – the Regulator’s second Annual Report since its establishment in October 2014.
Minister Flanagan stressed the importance of a well-regulated charity sector, saying: “I have great admiration for the work done by charities and charity workers in Ireland, and the Irish people continue to show themselves as very generous givers to charity. It is crucial that people can be confident that the money they donate is going where intended, and that the vast majority of well-run charities do not find public confidence undermined by shoddy practices in others. Good governance is as important in the charity sector as in all other walks of life.”
The Minister pointed out that there had been over 30,000 public contacts and queries with the CRA in 2016, demonstrating how important it was to provide a public interface on these matters, particularly in relation to any matters of concern. 135 charities had engaged with the Regulator as part of its ‘concerns management process’ in the course of the year.
He continued: “The CRA is now playing a crucial role in the charities sector. It now has statutory powers to investigate the affairs of charitable organisations and related matters; this is another step forward in ensuring that charities retain the trust of their donors and beneficiaries. I want to particularly commend the swift and decisive action taken by the Regulator when it became aware of significant concerns about the affairs of the organisation Console.”
In that case, the CRA worked with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and An Garda Síochána and the outcome saw Console wound up, its charitable tax status revoked and its deregistration from the Register of Charities. Actions were also taken to ensure that the charitable purpose and the service to beneficiaries were protected, resulting in another charity, Pieta House, providing the services formerly provided by Console.
The Minister highlighted the range of work undertaken by the CRA since its establishment, including the establishment of a Public Register of Charities, development of an online system for registration and annual reporting by charities and public consultations in relation to various matters. The Minister reaffirmed his support for the CRA and its Chief Executive Mr John Farrelly, and the support of his Department in ensuring that the staffing of the body continues to increase to its full level.
Note for editors:
The Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) is a statutorily independent body responsible for regulating charitable organisations operating in Ireland in order to increase public trust and confidence in their management and administration. The Regulator has been ramping up its activities on a phased basis since its establishment to ensure that charities adopt and comply with high standards of governance, accountability and transparency.
Since its establishment in October 2014, the Regulator has undertaken a variety of work to improve the governance of the Charities sector. This work includes the establishment of a Public Register of Charities, development of an online system for registration and annual reporting by charities and the provision of information to the charities sector on their obligations and duties under the new regulatory regime.
Public consultations have been conducted in relation to Accounting and Reporting Regulations and Charitable Fundraising. More recently, the Regulator has established a Consultative Panel on the Governance of Charitable Organisations. The panel will consider how the administration and management of charities can be improved and its recommendations will enable the Regulator to ensure an appropriate governance framework for charities is put in place.
In May 2016, the CRA recruited Mr John Farrelly as its new Chief Executive and commissioned an independent external review of the resources required to implement the Charities Act 2009. Recruitment of key staff as well as relocation of the organisation to the new "fit for purpose" open plan office at George's Dock, Dublin, also took place. While the CRA had 31 staff at the end of 2016, this has grown to 37 at present. In view of the importance of having a regulatory authority which has the resources and expertise to fulfil its statutory mandate, the Minister and his Department are actively supporting the CRA to ensure that its full authorised complement of 50 appropriately qualified and experienced staff will be in place as soon as possible.
In June 2016, the CRA launched its first Strategic Plan setting out the road map for its work to the end of 2018.
In September 2016, Part 4 of the Charities Act was commenced; giving the CRA statutory powers to investigate the affairs of charitable organisations and related matters. This marked another step forward in the development of the new regulatory regime which will, over time, contribute to much better governance of the charities sector.
Upon the date of its establishment, the CRA automatically registered approximately 8,000 charities that held CHY numbers with the Revenue Commissioners. These charities were required to verify their data and provide the Regulatory Authority with an updated report of activity. All other charities were required to register and submit activity reports to the CRA by 16 April 2016. Other relevant developments during 2016 included the following:
· 8,003 charities were on the register at the end of 2016 (84 charities were added to the register and 314 charities were de-registered during the year);
· 500 charities with CHY numbers received final notice letters requesting them to complete their annual registration details;
· 7,430 annual reports were filed by charities for reporting periods covering 2015 and 2016;
· 30,589 initial contacts and queries were received from the public;
· 317 concerns about charities were received during the year;
· 135 charities engaged with the Charities Regulator as part of its concerns management process.
The annual financial accounts for the CRA for 2016 will be made public as soon as they have been audited, in line with statute, by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
In accordance with section 3(1) of the Charities Act 2009, the Minister has arranged for the CRA’s Annual Report for 2016 (in both Irish and English) to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.