Thursday 10 May 2018
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to thank the Charity Regulator for inviting me to launch this report on the Governance of Charitable Organisations. I would also like to congratulate the consultative panel who framed this report and who brought considerable commitment and a wide berth of expertise to the task.
It is clear that this expertise in governance, law, finance and charity administration was accompanied by a very practical approach and common-sense attitude.
And as a consequence, the recommendations of the panel provide proportionate and realistic advice for the governance of charities and support of trustees in their duties.
There is no doubt that all registered charities should demonstrate a set of basic governance standards in their operations but balanced with this has to be the recognition that any such requirements or standards must be achievable by even the smallest of charities.
In that context, I welcome the Report’s recommendation of eschewing the regulatory specific approach to governance in favour of the approval of codes and guidelines.
I agree with the panel’s view that the introduction of additional hard law regulations specific to governance of charities is not appropriate at this time, but rather the accounting and reporting regulations should be the priority.
Also that there should be a new governance code for charities to facilitate the better administration, management and governance of charitable organisations. And that the content of the new governance code should be developed in collaboration with the charity sector.
Such initiatives can only deliver improved outcomes for our society through better focused charities where volunteers, staff, service recipients and all other stakeholders will have a common point of reference for governance standards.
It is no secret that the confidence of the Irish people in the charity sector has been dented in recent years. The reputation of the sector has been negatively impacted by the nefarious actions of a few.
We owe it to the charities and the volunteers who work for them to rectify this perception. Guidelines and regulation, such as proposed by this report, are clearly going to be absolutely vital in restoring a sense of integrity to the charity sector.
Proper regulation and guidance of the charity sector will also protect it and our citizens from further exploitation by unscrupulous individuals who have no place in it.
Volunteers and the charities for whom they work deserve respect and confidence. They provide vital support to our communities. As do those who sit on boards as charity trustees or who are otherwise active in the sector.
It is very positive, therefore, to note that the consultative panel strongly recommends a wide range of support and development programmes to support prospective and current charity trustees.
The panel was mandated to provide options for the Charities Regulator to promote compliance by charity trustees with their duties in the direction, control and management of charities.
Charity trustees work in a voluntary capacity, usually in small charities. They are responsible for ensuring good governance and are often faced with complex decisions.
It is important that training, guidance and support is available at little or no cost to charity trustees, and that costs be met by the charity rather than individual charity trustees.
Better oversight of the charities will actually secure the future of the charity sector.
That’s why I am very pleased to be here today to launch the Report of the Consultative Panel on the Governance of Charitable Organisations.
The panel’s report and the public consultation clearly indicate that strong guidance is required to underpin the work of the charity sector over the next few years.
Charities also need protection as well as sensible regulation. A certain uniformity of practice along with transparency and accountability will sustain and enhance the work of the sector into the future.
I understand that that the task of the panel was facilitated by the staff of the Charities Regulator and The Institute of Public Administration, through Dr Nicholas Marcoux and I would like to acknowledge those contributions and assistance.
I would also like to commend the approach of the Chair and the Board of the Charities Regulator as well as its CEO for the hard work and effort put into delivering the Report.
And I look forward to seeing its implementation and the subsequent benefits to the very deserving Charity Sector and the people who work within it.