Written answers

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Department of Justice, Equality and Defence

Irish Red Cross

8:00 pm

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 246: To ask the Minister for Defence, in view of his commitment to good corporate governance practice, if he has concerns that the executive committee and the central council of the Irish Red Cross has a number of members who have served continually on the board for between ten and 20 years, in breach of internationally recognised good governance practice, including that of the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8251/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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My Department is engaged in consultations with the Office of the Attorney General on the extent of changes that can be made to the Irish Red Cross Order 1939. Following receipt of legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which is expected in the coming weeks, I will review the legislative changes that are proposed and consider bringing them to Government for approval. Amongst the issues that will be considered will be the question of introducing mandatory breaks in service.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 247: To ask the Minister for Defence if the Irish Red Cross intends to carry out an independent investigation into claims made by the IRC whistleblower and pending the outcome of that investigation to re-instate the sacked former head of the international department as per calls made by Transparency International - Ireland in December 2010 and again in March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8252/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Irish Red Cross Society is an independent statute based charitable organisation with full power to manage and administer its affairs through its governing body, the Central Council. The Irish Red Cross Order 1939, which established the Society in Ireland, does not make any provision for the Government to intervene in the day to day administration of the Society. Furthermore, there is an obligation on Governments to protect the independence of national Red Cross organisations. The dismissal of the employee in question is an internal disciplinary matter for the Society. Accordingly, disciplinary issues that arise within the Society must be addressed in the context of a normal employer/employee relationship without interference by Government. All parties to the disciplinary action are of course entitled to seek independent legal advice.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 248: To ask the Minister for Defence when he expects to be in a position to appoint a replacement to the central council of the Irish Red Cross following the recent resignation of one of its Government nominated members for personal reasons; and the way he intends to choose the replacement.. [8253/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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My Department was recently informed of the resignation, for personal reasons, of one of the previous Government's nominees on the Central Council of the Society. When I have had an opportunity to consider how this vacancy might be filled, I will bring a Memorandum to Government for decision.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 249: To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to put aside the governance reform proposals submitted by the Irish Red Cross last year pending the outcome of the detailed legal review of the governance and structures of the IRC as per the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8254/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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As the legislation that governs the Irish Red Cross Society substantially dates back to the pre World War II era, I believe it is now opportune to carry out a comprehensive review of the legislation governing the operation of the Society. The recommendations of the Working Group on Governance Reform will be considered as part of the review of the legislation governing the Irish Red Cross Society.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 250: To ask the Minister for Defence if, in the absence to date of the production and publication by the Irish Red Cross of a 2009 annual report or a 2010 annual report, he will assure Dáil Éireann that he is satisfied that the nearly €2 million of taxpayers' money given by him to the Irish Red Cross in 2009 and 2010 has been effectively and efficiently spent; if he will inform Dáil Éireann when the 2009 and the 2010 IRC annual reports may be expected; and the reason for the delay in producing same. [8255/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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I am satisfied that the money granted to the Irish Red Cross Society in 2009 and 2010, which covers the administration of the Irish Society as well as an annual contribution from Ireland to the International Committee of the Red Cross, has been properly spent. The 2009 Accounts have been independently audited and published. I understand that the 2010 Accounts are on schedule for finalisation and publication shortly. As regards the Annual Reports covering 2009 and 2010, I understand that one composite report, covering both years, will be published in the next few months. The delay in publication can be partially attributed to the changes in senior personnel that have taken place in recent months.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 251: To ask the Minister for Defence if he has approved annual grant-in-aid funding for 2011 to the Irish Red Cross and the amount of same; his views on whether this is a prudent use of taxpayers' money in view of the extensive revelations in the media (details supplied) during 2010 regarding financial issues within the Irish Red Cross. [8256/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Irish Red Cross Society is supported by an annual grant from the Department of Defence vote. The grant is paid in quarterly amounts to the Society. The total grant for 2011 is set at €951,000 and was approved as part of the 2011 Estimates process. The grant makes an important contribution towards the administration and running costs of the Irish Society. Provision is made in each year's grant for the Government's annual contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The contribution is paid by the Society on behalf of the Government. An amount of €130,000 is included in the total grant for this purpose.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Question 252: To ask the Minister for Defence the actions he has taken to date to carry out a detailed legal review of the governance and structures of the Irish Red Cross as per the commitment given in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8257/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Programme for Government provides for the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances.

As the legislation that governs the Irish Red Cross Society substantially dates back to the pre World War II era, I believe it is now opportune to carry out a comprehensive review of the legislation governing the operation of the Society. In 2007 a resolution was passed by the Council of Delegates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which urged all National Societies to examine and update their Statutes - the rules of the National Societies - and the related legal texts. Arising from this, governance reform has been undertaken by many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world in accordance with the "Guidance for National Society Statutes" and relevant International Conference resolutions.

I am aware that a Working Group to propose changes in the governance of the Society was established by the Irish Red Cross in 2008. The Chairman of the Working Group presented the findings, which included changes recommended by the International Federation, to the Central Council of the Irish Red Cross Society at a meeting held in November 2009. The Working Group's report was then submitted to the Department of Defence early last year.

Following the Department's review of these proposals and the related legislation, a draft Order that would amend the Irish Red Cross Order 1939 was submitted to the Office of the Attorney General. The 1939 Order sets out the basis upon which the Society is governed and was made pursuant to the Red Cross Act 1938. Discussions with the Office of the Attorney General on the extent of changes that can be made to the 1939 Order are continuing. Following receipt of legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which is expected in the coming weeks, I will review the legislative changes that are proposed and consider bringing them to Government for approval.

Finally, it is important to note that whatever changes may be made to the 1939 Order, a comprehensive review of all Red Cross legislation, and in particular the primary legislation, will be commenced by my Department as a matter of priority. In this regard, I believe that an overriding principle should be to ensure that whatever legislative changes are made have the full support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Photo of Aodhán Ó RíordáinAodhán Ó Ríordáin (Dublin North Central, Labour)
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Question 253: To ask the Minister for Defence the progress made in initiating a detailed review of the basis, structures and governance of the Irish Red Cross, as outlined in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8440/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Programme for Government provides for the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances.

As the legislation that governs the Irish Red Cross Society substantially dates back to the pre World War II era, I believe it is now opportune to carry out a comprehensive review of the legislation governing the operation of the Society. In 2007 a resolution was passed by the Council of Delegates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which urged all National Societies to examine and update their Statutes - the rules of the National Societies - and the related legal texts. Arising from this, governance reform has been undertaken by many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world in accordance with the "Guidance for National Society Statutes" and relevant International Conference resolutions.

I am aware that a Working Group to propose changes in the governance of the Society was established by the Irish Red Cross in 2008. The Chairman of the Working Group presented the findings, which included changes recommended by the International Federation, to the Central Council of the Irish Red Cross Society at a meeting held in November 2009. The Working Group's report was then submitted to the Department of Defence early last year.

Following the Department's review of these proposals and the related legislation, a draft Order that would amend the Irish Red Cross Order 1939 was submitted to the Office of the Attorney General. The 1939 Order sets out the basis upon which the Society is governed and was made pursuant to the Red Cross Act 1938. Discussions with the Office of the Attorney General on the extent of changes that can be made to the 1939 Order are continuing. Following receipt of legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which is expected in the coming weeks, I will review the legislative changes that are proposed and consider bringing them to Government for approval.

Finally, it is important to note that whatever changes may be made to the 1939 Order, a comprehensive review of all Red Cross legislation, and in particular the primary legislation, will be commenced by my Department as a matter of priority. In this regard, I believe that an overriding principle should be to ensure that whatever legislative changes are made have the full support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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Question 254: To ask the Minister for Defence if he will elaborate on the commitment in the programme for Government to initiate a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8408/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Programme for Government provides for the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances. As the legislation that governs the Irish Red Cross Society substantially dates back to the pre World War II era, I believe it is now opportune to carry out a comprehensive review of the legislation governing the operation of the Society.

In 2007 a resolution was passed by the Council of Delegates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which urged all National Societies to examine and update their Statutes - the rules of the National Societies - and the related legal texts. Arising from this, governance reform has been undertaken by many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world in accordance with the "Guidance for National Society Statutes" and relevant International Conference resolutions.

I am aware that a Working Group to propose changes in the governance of the Society was established by the Irish Red Cross in 2008. The Chairman of the Working Group presented the findings, which included changes recommended by the International Federation, to the Central Council of the Irish Red Cross Society at a meeting held in November 2009. The Working Group's report was then submitted to the Department of Defence early last year.

Following the Department's review of these proposals and the related legislation, a draft Order that would amend the Irish Red Cross Order 1939 was submitted to the Office of the Attorney General. The 1939 Order sets out the basis upon which the Society is governed and was made pursuant to the Red Cross Act 1938. Discussions with the Office of the Attorney General on the extent of changes that can be made to the 1939 Order are continuing. Following receipt of legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which is expected in the coming weeks, I will review the legislative changes that are proposed and consider bringing them to Government for approval.

Finally, it is important to note that whatever changes may be made to the 1939 Order, a comprehensive review of all Red Cross legislation, and in particular the primary legislation, will be commenced by my Department as a matter of priority. In this regard, I believe that an overriding principle should be to ensure that whatever legislative changes are made have the full support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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