Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
527. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence when he next expects to make Government nominations to the central council of the Irish Red Cross; the number of nominees he expects to appoint; the criteria he will use to select suitable nominees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15526/12]
529. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence when he expects to commence the detailed legal review of the basis, structures, governance and so on of the Irish Red Cross as per the commitment in the programme for Government; if he envisages substantial changes to existing Irish Red Cross legislation; if the review may result in a new Irish Red Cross Bill during the lifetime of the present Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15528/12]
Officials from my Department and the Office of the Attorney General have recently finalised the text of the proposed Government Order that will amend the Irish Red Cross Society Order 1939. One of the key changes proposed in the amendment Order, which will be brought to Government very shortly, concerns the composition of the Society’s governing body, its General Assembly — to be renamed as such instead of Central Council — whereby not more than 10% of its membership can be nominated by Government. I expect to be in a position in the coming weeks to seek Government approval for the nomination of up to four people to the General Assembly.
In addition, 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. Work has commenced in my Department in this regard and I expect that the Heads of a new Red Cross Bill should be ready for publication later this year. I believe that an overriding principle must be to ensure that any legislative changes made have the full support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
530. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the contacts he has had with the Irish Red Cross regarding corporate governance issues at the charity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15529/12]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Irish Red Cross Society is an independent charitable body corporate which, in accordance with relevant legislation, is responsible for handling its own internal affairs.
Whilst I am conscious of the importance attaching to its independence, I wrote to the Chairman of the Society last year in relation to corporate governance matters. I subsequently met with both the Chairman and the Secretary General of the Society and the progress made in relation to governance reform was outlined. Overall, it was a very positive meeting; I offered my support to the Chairman and the Secretary General in their efforts and I am satisfied that very good progress is being made in this regard.
Officials from my Department meet regularly with the Irish Red Cross and they have also met with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the context of the proposed changes to the Irish Red Cross Society Order 1939.
531. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence if he is satisfied that, as an external stakeholder in the Irish Red Cross, his views on rotation at leadership levels in the society will be taken into account by the central council members of the IRC when they elect the next executive committee in May this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15530/12]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): I am on record of saying that I do not believe that it is conducive to good corporate governance for any individual to serve indefinitely on the Central Council or the Executive Committee of the Irish Red Cross Society, or in the same appointment. I have previously written to the Chairman of the Society and expressed my views on the need for mandatory breaks in service. I welcome the fact that the issue of turnover and rotation at leadership levels was raised by him at a subsequent Central Council meeting and that agreement was reached by the members to introduce a mandatory three-year break for Executive Committee members in circumstances where a member may have previously served for two consecutive three year terms.
I am aware of the fact that it is the firm view of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that membership of the Executive Committee is a matter for the Irish Red Cross Society and I am satisfied that the members will consider the views of their external stakeholders when determining the composition of the next Executive Committee.
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