Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD, will issue a call next week for Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified persons who wish to be considered for appointment to the Board of a new Charities Regulatory Authority, with a view to making appointments before Easter to allow the Authority to come into operation at that time. Arrangements are also being made to fill of the post of CEO of the new Authority on an interim basis by the end of February.

Minister Shatter said "The recent revelations about certain organisations in the charitable sector have understandably damaged public trust and confidence. The commencement of the key measures in the Charities Act will provide the increased transparency and accountability that will allow this trust to be rebuilt. I am pleased to be able to confirm that this will go ahead, with appointments to the Board of the new Authority to be made before Easter. In the meantime, I have recently received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to appoint an interim CEO and a number of other staff from within existing resources. I intend to have these staff in place by the end of February, with appointments to the Board before Easter."

An early priority for the new Authority will be the creation and publication of a statutory register of charities. All registered charities will be required to provide reports to the Authority each year on their activities and these reports will be made available to the public. This will provide a much needed increase in transparency and accountability in the charitable sector, and will support the good practice in charity governance and management that is critical to a vibrant charity sector that commands the trust and confidence of donors and beneficiaries alike.

17 January 2014

ENDS

 

Notes for Editor:

The Charities Act was enacted in February 2009. The Act provides for the introduction of a new system of registration and regulation of the charities sector in Ireland. As part of this new system, an independent Charities Regulatory Authority is to be established. The Authority will be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a public register of charities and has a range of other regulatory and advisory functions.

The Charities Act is structured in such a way as to allow for commencement, by Ministerial Order, of its individual provisions on different dates over a period of time.

To date, the following sections of the Act have been commenced:

· Sections 1, 2, 5, 10 (subsections 1 and 2), 99 (S.I. 284 of 2009);

· Sections 4 and 90 (S.I. 315 of 2010).

The remaining sections have not yet been commenced.

The further implementation of the Charities Act, including the establishment of the Authority and register of charities, had resource implications that had to be reviewed in the context of the obligations imposed to reduce government expenditure and public service numbers.

It was clear following the appointment of the Government on the 9 March 2011 that the full implementation of the 2009 Act, as envisaged at the time of its enactment by the previous government was not financially viable under the then existing circumstances. Arrangements for the implementation of the Act therefore had to be re-examined in detail.

The Minister for Justice and Equality had to consider in conjunction with the charity sector how best to achieve the Act’s objectives in a continuing context of public spending reductions and a reduction in public service numbers. At all times it remained Government policy to strengthen the regulation of the charitable sector in effective and proportionate ways.

To advance this, a public and stakeholder consultation on proposals for the implementation of the Charities Act was carried out by the Department of Justice and Equality early last year. These proposals envisaged the phased implementation of the Charities Act, with the establishment of the Regulatory Authority initially on a small scale with its initial principal focus being the development and publication of a statutory Register of Charities. As part of this approach, charities themselves will be required to make a contribution to the costs of this new system of regulation through the payment of modest and proportionate annual registration fees. This will enable the key provisions of the Act to be brought into force. The consultation process revealed a continuing broad base of support across the charity sector, as well as among the general public for the introduction of the new system of regulation as proposed.

In July of last year the Minister for Justice and Equality published the outcome of the consultation and brought proposals to Government for the establishment of a Charities Regulatory Authority which were accepted. The Minister is now proceeding to implement the proposals on foot of the sanctions received from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.