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Irish charities already feeling effects of Brexit

By Ann Marie Foley - 08 July, 2016

“With the adverse effect on trade, people’s income and ability to donate could be negatively impacted, which raises concerns for fundraisers.”

Brexit debate

Ripples can already be felt in the Irish community, charity and voluntary sector following the British vote to exit the European Union in the 23 June referendum.

This is according to Deirdre Finlay, European Programmes Coordinator of the Wheel, a representative body for 1,335 organisations in Ireland.

She warned that, “With the adverse effect on trade, people’s income and ability to donate could be negatively impacted, which raises concerns for fundraisers.”

Uncertain currency and share prices, potential recession in the UK are just some of the issues that might cause UK companies and charities to establish a base in Ireland.

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“Already one Northern Ireland-based charity which does extensive programming in the south is investigating the possibility of opening an office in Dublin” she stated.

However, she said it is uncertain if such moves would bring more competition for funding in Ireland or on the other hand the newcomers to the Irish charity sector could bring strength in new ideas, advocacy initiatives and programming.

An immediate concern is border counties and Northern Ireland, where EU funding has enabled cross-border collaboration and programming such as PEACE and Interreg.

Already border county members of The Wheel are unsure whether to apply for funding under the PEACE IV programme.

Deirdre Finlay

Deirdre Finlay

The potential opportunities for Irish charities post Brexit are more corporate donations from new US and other companies who base themselves in Ireland.

However, if Brexit causes economic uncertainty in Ireland donations may slow down.

Deirdre Finlay points out in her blog published on The Wheel’s website that an “obvious direct hit” to the UK charity sector will be an inability to access EU structural funds, should the UK government not establish alternative programmes or allow access to certain EU funding streams.

This is an issue that was raised by Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham before the vote and he said groups such as CAFOD, the overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and SCIAF, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, would lose grants following a Brexit victory.

Representatives of CAFOD and SCIAF did not comment at the time and took a neutral position.

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