By Ann Marie Foley - 20 October, 2014
“This is a watershed moment for transparency for charities in Ireland. There is now a publicly available register of charities in Ireland which will be developed further in the coming months and which will provide people with clear information about what Ireland’s 8500 charities do, and how they raise and spend their funds,” said Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy at The Wheel.
The Wheel is a national body representing 1,000 charities in Ireland.
Ivan Cooper added that charities have been calling for a regulator for years. “They will now finally have certainty about what is expected of them in terms of reporting and accounting for their work,” he said.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald said that the establishment of the CRA is a critical first step in reforming and strengthening the regulation of this sector.
“The charity sector plays a vital role in our society and economy. It is important, both for the charity sector and for the wider public, that we can have trust and confidence in our charities. The right regulatory framework for charities can support them in their work,” she said.
The CRA is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a register of charitable organisations. It also ensures compliance by charity trustees with their duties in the control and management of charitable trusts and organisations.
The chairman of the new CRA, Conor Woods, stated that the requirement for charities to register is an important reform that will bring increased transparency to the charity sector.
“Ireland’s charities deliver public benefit across a wide range of sectors. Their work is essential to the well being of our communities. It is important that they are well governed and managed, and that they are genuinely accountable to their donors and beneficiaries,” he said.
The Register of Charities will be published online shortly on the website of the CRA. This Register will contain the approximately 8,400 charities that held a charitable tax exemption from the Revenue Commissioners at the time of the establishment of the CRA.
These charities are automatically deemed to be registered with the CRA.
To begin with, the Register will contain only minimal information about these charities. In the weeks and months ahead, the CRA will invite these charities to supply additional information, such as their activities, and how they are funded.
This will support the public in making informed decisions about supporting charities.
Charities that did not have a tax exemption from Revenue at the time of the establishment of the CRA are not automatically registered and will need to apply directly to the CRA to register.
Information on who should apply and on how to apply is available on the website of the CRA.
The CRA can also investigate charities but these provisions of the Act are not being brought into force at this time as the initial priority for the CRA is to put the system of charity registration and annual reporting in place.
In the meantime, it is still open to members of the public to contact the CRA with a concern or complaint about a charity.
The CRA will follow up on concerns and complaints in line with the statutory powers it has and the resources available to it.