Thursday, 21 October 2010
Department of Defence
Irish Red Cross
Question 17: To ask the Minister for Defence the discussions he has had with the new chairman of the Irish Red Cross; the advice and instructions he gave the new chairman; the way he perceives the chairman's remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38088/10]
Question 28: To ask the Minister for Defence the progress that has been made in implementing the recommendations of the working group to examine the issue of governance in the Irish Red Cross and if statutory changes will be necessary to deal with same [37987/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 28 together.
In accordance with Article 9 of the Irish Red Cross Society Order, 1939 the Chairman of the Society must be a member of the Central Council. In nominating persons to Central Council, the Government considers that it is highly desirable that the Society should have on its governing body, people with a wide variety of knowledge and expertise, gained through work experience in both the public and private sector and/or volunteer experience with the Society. The Government, in recommending to the President a person to act as Chairman, had to nominate a person who it deemed would make a positive contribution to the affairs of the Society. Such a role assumes even greater importance now given the imminent changes to the Society's organisation. Taking the above into account, Mr David J O'Callaghan was recently appointed, by the President, as the new Chairman of the Irish Red Cross. Mr. O'Callaghan is a former career civil servant with vast experience of public administration at senior management level. He has experience of matters relating to the Irish Red Cross Society from his previous post as Secretary General of the Department of Defence, which he held from 1995 to 2004. Having met Mr. O'Callaghan, I am fully confident that he will discharge the duties assigned to that office under the Irish Red Cross Society Order 1939 and the Rules of the Society and help expedite the reform process underway in the Society.
As I have said on many occasions in the past, the Irish Red Cross Society is an independent statute based organisation with full power to manage its own affairs. I have no function in the administration of the Society and I do not get involved in the day-to-day running of its affairs.
The current governance proposals arise from a resolution passed in November 2007, by the Council of Delegates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which urged all National Societies, as requested by Action 3 of the Strategy for the Movement, to examine and update their Statutes - the rules of the National Societies - and related legal texts by 2010, in accordance with the "Guidance for National Society Statutes" and relevant International Conference resolutions. This task is being undertaken by many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. The current proposals have the support of the IFRC.
The formal report of the Working Group established by the Irish Red Cross Society to examine the issue of governance was received in the Department of Defence in January of this year. In order to implement the recommendations made there will be a requirement for significant amendments to the Irish Red Cross Society Order 1939. Representatives of the Society and Officials from the Department of Defence have had a number of meetings to discuss the specific changes required to the 1939 Order and work is ongoing in that regard.