Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has raised the need for strong and independent regulation in the non-profit and charity sector.

Crowe was speaking in Dáil on Sinn Féin’s motion to urgently introduce regulatory oversight into this sector.

Deputy Crowe said:

“This Bill gave us all an opportunity to bring about reform and improve the climate that is facing the charity sector.

“Since the financial crash the charity and community sector have faced an avalanche of cuts, and the lack of regulation in this area for so long, has seen some high profile organisations use and abuse private donations they receive.

“Most organisations do fantastic work, and the shocking revelations about some organisations, are extremely damaging to the whole sector.

“The high wages the CEO’s of some voluntary organisation have been paying themselves is appalling most sectors of Irish society.

“The greedy actions of a few are a brutal betrayal to all those who donate to the organisation, as well as all those who work in the frontline services that the charity sector provides.

“The most outraged over these recent scandals are the common man or women who donate to these organisation, or those who work in this sector.

“A lot of organisations in this sector have been calling for regulation for years, as charities have been unregulated since the foundation of the State.

Crowe continued:

“Lest we forget that this is a huge sector with over 8,000 charities registered in this State, which employ 100,000 people, and have an estimated turnover of €5.7 billion a year.

“So any regulation needs to be transparent and fit for purpose. It can’t be done on the cheap or because of recent scandals that the Public Accounts Committee have helped uncover.

“The passing of legislation to regulate this sector and the establishment of a Charity Regulator needs to be financed, have actual authority, and most importantly independence.

“One of the reasons this sector is so big is because of the consecutive Government’s disastrous record in health care, social protection, housing provision and poverty reduction.

“As Nelson Mandela once said: “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.”

“It would do well for the Government to reflect on this and realise it must regulate the charity sector, but also start meeting the basic needs of its own citizens.”