For the Media

The Wheel is the leading voice for Ireland's charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Our membership of 1,600 organisations includes Ireland's best-known charities.

Our team is available to comment on any issues related to Ireland's nonprofit sector, including:

  • the role and activities of charities, community and voluntary groups and social enterprises;
  • charities regulation and Charity Law;
  • good governance, quality standards and voluntary codes for the sector;
  • transparency and accountability;
  • volunteering and active citizenship;
  • fundraising and funding for charities; and
  • the role of the voluntary sector in delivering health and social care services.

Our spokespeople are experienced media commentators. Contact us today to arrange an interview. 

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Gert

Media Contact

Gert Ackermann
Communications Manager

Mobile: 086 176 9287
Tel: 01-454 8727
Email: gert@wheel.ie


Press Releases

Read our most recent press releases below.

The Wheel, the national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises, has called on to fund a new technical support service to help Irish organisations access EU programmes and funding.

Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Union Affairs on Wednesday (10 July), Deirdre Finlay, European Programmer Manager at The Wheel said, while many community and voluntary organisations participate in European programmes such as Horizon 2020, Interreg, PEACE and ERASMUS+, there is huge unrealized potential for far greater participation in European programmes.

“Participation in EU funded programmes one of the key ways in which nonprofit organisations can engage with counterparts in other EU countries. These transnational collaborations are key to building a stronger post-Brexit EU. Unfortunately, Irish civil society organisations do not participate as actively in certain programmes as our European counterparts,” said Ms Finlay.

She cited the success of the Access Europe project (2018) as solid evidence that a support service and point of EU technical expertise for Irish civil society is needed and works. “The budget for the project was €387,150 for three years. Access Europe enabled over €22.53m of funding to Irish organisations north and south over a three-year period, with 74 applications filed,” said Ms Finlay.

However, Ms Finlay added that Irish civil society groups face a number of barriers that limit participation in EU programmes. This includes the costs associated with preparing applications, the complexity of the application process and the need for match funding. “These issues will need to be addressed if we are to maximise participation – arguably a crucial national objective with Brexit

“With the departure of UK from the European Union, Ireland will be seen by other member states as a valuable source of partners and expertise in building future European partnerships across the full spectrum of economic, social and cultural life. This is because of its long experience of EU membership, its English language capability and its reputation for efficiency and innovation in the management of EU funds over the past 45 years. We call on Government to embrace this opportunity by a new technical support service to help Irish nonprofits access EU programmes and funding,” concluded Ms Finlay.

For more information, see www.wheel.ie/eu and www.europeforcitizens.ie

-ENDS-

The Wheel, the national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises, today called for a new era of collaboration in health and social services.  Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy made the call during a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Health which is considering the Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in health and personal social services(IRG Report).

Addressing the committee, Mr Cooper explained how issues with inadequate budgets, an increasingly demanding regulatory environment and a lack of collaboration between organisations providing and the HSE and Department of Health, can be remedied by implementing the recommendations of the recently published IRG report. 

Mr Cooper detailed how practical solutions have been outlined in detail within the IRG Report and that now it is time for action, “The IRG Report recommends a new forum for meaningful dialogue and collaborative partnership, a charter for a new relationship, and multi-annual budgeting.  These extremely positive recommendations would empower the state and the sector to build a world-class health and social care service which is responsive, innovative and person-centred.”

The Wheel believes that the Forum on the IRG report, which is now in the initial stages of planning by the Department of Health, offers a very valuable structure and tool to advance and implement recommendations in the Report that “this will be a key means to underpin trust, confidence and improved working between all stakeholders involved. The terms of reference for the Forum should be consulted widely and transparently, and finalised in conjunction with representatives of those delivering services.”

The Wheel’s 1,600 members, over 150 are funded by the HSE through provisions of the Health Act to deliver services. They are a key part of our national health and personal social service infrastructure, providing vital supports and services to individuals, families and communities across Ireland. However, Mr Cooper highlighted that “despite the longstanding role they play in providing services and supports, these organisations are facing many challenges which limit or in some cases prevent them from carrying out their vital work to full capacity”.

Mr Cooper concluded: “These recommendations are achievable, and the community and voluntary sector and The Wheel look forward to working in partnership with the Oireachtas, Government, the Department of Health, the HSE and other departments and agencies to progress quality service and ensure we have a world class health and social service system worthy of an Ireland that values those most in need of support and high-quality healthcare.”

The Wheel by Disability Federation of Ireland, Epilepsy Ireland and WALK, who presented on the lived impact of the current issues facing the community and voluntary sector, detailing the ways in which a collaborative partnership could transform Ireland’s healthcare and disability provision.

//ENDS

Sector in desperate need of adequate funding arrangements, streamlining of compliance requirements; and reduction in spiralling insurance costs

The Wheel, the national association of charities, today addressed the National Economic Dialogue signalling the need for adequate resourcing to be committed to the non-profit sector in Budget 2020. Ireland’s 29,000 community, voluntary and charitable organisations are a priceless national asset. The sector involves over 51,000 volunteer directors and trustees, directly employs 190,000 people and manages income of €14.5 Bn per year.  Over half of this income (over €7Bn per anum) is raised by these organisations themselves, and represents a major subsidy to the cost of public services in Ireland.

Addressing the National Economic Dialogue, Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said, “The sector is very significant in our national life - but it can make an even bigger contribution if it is supported in a few key areas regarding challenges it faces.  These challenges include ensuring adequate funding arrangements for the work; dealing with the increase in compliance requirements; and bringing down the cost of insurance.”

Speaking on the significant increase in compliance requirements, Mr Cooper continued, “we note that the state has rightly made a big investment in recent years in regulation and compliance processes, but there has been no equivalent investment in charities to support their capacity to comply. We are asking Government to review and streamline compliance and regulatory requirements and ensure that the cost of compliance is provided for in funding agreements.”

The Wheel has long advocated for the development of a coherent long-term funding strategy for the sector. We call on Government to introduce multi-annual, three to five-year funding arrangements as the default approach to facilitate better services.  Such an arrangement will enable long-term planning and effective staff recruitment and retention, and will improve services outcomes.

Mr Cooper highlighted that “The unsustainable rise in insurance costs is having a very serious effect on many organisations in the community and voluntary sector. We are calling on Government to ensure that The Judicial Council Bill results in guidelines that will ensure the modest injuries attract moderate damages and that damages should be proportionate in the context of a cap on general damages for catastrophic injuries of €450,000.”

- ENDS -

Three interrelated policies, which are currently being finalised by government on community development, volunteering and social enterprise, offer a once in a generation opportunity to realise the full potential of  Ireland’s 29,000 non-profit organisations and must be given priority by all concerned, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel, said today at the organisation’s 20th Anniversary Summit in Croke Park.

Speaking at the event, Deirdre Garvey said, “The contribution of Ireland’s community, voluntary and charity sector is often overlooked and remains undervalued, despite the sector’s combined annual turnover of €14bn, which represents 4.2% of Ireland’s GDP.” 

“Over half a million volunteers, 188,000 staff and 60,000 voluntary board members commit their time annually in 29,000 non-profit organisations, around 10,000 of which are charities. Without this selfless and tireless commitment, Ireland would be a lesser place,” said Ms Garvey. She added that it is vital that the Government's three new policies be fully co-ordinated and cross-referenced to ensure that the interlinked needs of community organisations are effectively addressed. The policies are being developed under the auspices of the Department of Rural and Community Development, but Ms Garvey says it should involve a “whole of government approach”.

“The development of these new policies, for which the government deserves to be commended, offers the prospect of enabling the sector to deliver to its full capacity as we come out of recession. The sector is finally receiving appropriate and deserved attention given the important role it plays in the Irish economy and society”, said Ms Garvey

To achieve these aims, the three new policies should be followed up by a clear five-year roadmap for the community sector in the next Programme for Government. 

“This roadmap would enable government and the sector to jointly address and resolve key issues such as early action on streamlining of compliance reporting and provision for the associated costs, a reduction in the cost of insurance, certainty of adequate funding streams, public procurement procedures that enable social enterprises and the introduction of a financial reporting standard for charities to sustain public trust ,” said Ms. Garvey. 

The Summit, which will be addressed by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, marks the 20th anniversary of The Wheel, which represents almost 1,600 charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises countrywide.

The Wheel’s Summit in Croke Park was attended by over 400 delegates representing charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises. 

For more information on The Wheel’s Summit see www.wheel.ie/summit

#CharitySummit
#TheWheel20

 -ENDS- 

 

The Wheel calls for full implementation of IRG recommendations

9 May 2019 - The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of charities, today hosted a meeting between 40 HSE-funded charities and Catherine Day, the chair of the Independent Review Group (IRG) set up by Minister of Health, Simon Harris to review the role of voluntary providers in publicly funded health and personal social services. The meeting is being held against the backdrop of the funding crisis among charities that deliver services under contract from the state.

On Tuesday, the Rehab Group informed the HSE of its intention to terminate RehabCare’s contracts unless additional funding of €2 million per annum is urgently provided to address substantial deficits in the services it delivers to more than 3,000 vulnerable adults and children with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities, in communities across the country. The charity says without more funding, it is not financially viable.

The IRG’s report, which was published in February, contains many positive recommendations to improve the working relationship between the sector and the state, as well as the general funding and administrative environment.  These include recommendations that the Department of Health establish a forum and create a charter to structure relationships with the sector and agree a list of essential services to be fully funded. The report also recommends that the Department of Health commit to simplifying service agreements in order to avoid duplication of reporting.

The meeting today follows on from a gathering of sixteen leading charity CEO’s hosted by The Wheel yesterday which was convened to discuss the increase in costs associated with the delivery of state contracts, which threatens the survival of many organisations.

Speaking at the meeting, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel stressed that “many organisations in receipt of state funding, not solely from the HSE, are feeling pushed to breaking point by an increase in costs associated with regulatory compliance which results in an inevitable increase in staffing costs which have not been factored in by statutory funding bodies such as the HSE. Due to duplication in reporting requirements, many organisations in the nonprofit sector are struggling under an administrative load which diverts attention and scarce resources away from the people they are seeking to help, support and advocate for.”

The Wheel is calling for the full implementation of the recommendations of the IRG Report in response to the urgent need for streamlining of reporting requirements to reduce the staffing hours spent in form filing and equip the sector with a more efficient framework to support full compliance and foster the best possible outcomes in service provision and advocacy.

The Wheel is also calling on the Government to implement the IRG recommendations in reconsidering their current approach to funding by offering multi-annual funding, that factors in the growing costs of insurance, inflation rates and all other day-to-day costs organisations are faced with. This would allow organisations to plan strategically in the best interests of those they support while factoring in the real cost of the gold standard of compliance which the sector is keen to continue to uphold.

Without significant changes in the Government’s approach toward the charity, community and voluntary and social enterprise sector we risk reduction, or even eradication, of invaluable services across every community in Ireland.

-ENDS-

 

The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of charities, this morning called a meeting of leading charities to discuss threats to funding for the sector coupled with the impact of increasing regulatory and funding-related compliance requirements, in particular for charities engaged in state contracts. The CEOs of sixteen leading charities attended the meeting in Dublin.

The group met to voice concerns over an increase in costs associated with the delivery of state contracts, which threatens the work of many charities. Yesterday, the Rehab Group informed the HSE of its intention to terminate RehabCare’s contracts unless additional funding of €2 million per annum is urgently provided to address substantial deficits in the services it delivers to more than 3,000 vulnerable adults and children with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities, in communities across the country. The charity says without more funding, it is not financially viable.

Speaking at the meeting, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel stressed that “many organisations in receipt of state funding, not solely from the HSE, are feeling pushed to breaking point by an  increase in costs associated with regulatory and funding-related compliance, which results in an inevitable increase in staffing costs that have not been factored in by statutory funding bodies such as the HSE. Due to duplication in reporting requirements, many organisations in the nonprofit sector are struggling under an administrative load which diverts attention and scarce resources away from the people they are seeking to help, support and advocate for.

“The sector is struggling to retain staff who are highly trained, deliver essential services and deserve to be paid in line with their peers who are employed by the HSE. These staff are at the front line of delivering services and support for those not adequately provided for by the Government and need to be paid a living wage and afforded the respect which their work deserves,” said Ms Garvey.

The Wheel is calling for the streamlining of reporting requirements, in order to reduce the staffing hours spent in form filing and to equip the sector with a more efficient framework to support full compliance and foster the best possible outcomes in service provision and advocacy.

The Wheel is also calling on the Government to reconsider their current approach to funding by offering multi-annual funding, that factor in the growing costs of insurance, inflation rates and all other day-to-day costs organisations face. This would allow organisations to plan strategically in the best interests of those they support while factoring in the real cost of the gold standard of compliance which the sector is keen to continue to uphold. “Without significant changes in the Government’s approach toward the charity, community and voluntary and social enterprise sector, we risk reduction, or even eradication, of invaluable services across every community in Ireland,” said Ms Garvey.

-ENDS-

The Wheel, supported by representatives from some of Ireland’s leading charities, today launched Community Matters, a national campaign aimed at the candidates contesting the local and European elections on 24 May.

The purpose of the Community Matters campaign is to encourage all local and European elected representatives to champion and support the work of charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises.

Representatives from the Irish Cancer Society, the Irish Wheelchair Society, Down Syndrome Ireland, SpunOut and Dóchas joined The Wheel’s CEO, Deirdre Garvey as they launched the campaign by unveiling a series of election posters in front of Dublin City Council’s Offices on Wood Quay.

Speaking at the launch, CEO Deirdre Garvey said, “As the local and European election campaigns launch over the coming weeks, we want to ensure the focus remains where it should be - on the people in the communities whom candidates seek to represent. The charity, community and voluntary sector is the backbone of every community across Ireland, supporting and advocating for the most vulnerable in society. We want to remind candidates of the vital work these organisations do and the richness they bring to life in Ireland. It is important for candidates to publicly commit their support for the nonprofit sector and all of the people they represent ahead of the election on 24 May.”

The Wheel is asking candidates to support Community Matters by signing a pledge at  www.wheel.ie/elections and to publicly support Community Matters by using the #valuecommunity hashtag, so the people in our communities can prioritise the candidates that prioritise them.

For more information see www.wheel.ie/elections

- ENDS

 

Call for Charities Regulator and Department of Finance to prioritise the introduction of statutory financial reporting standards for charities

The Wheel, Irelands’ national association of charities, today welcomed a new report by Benefacts, which casts a new light on the extent and immense contribution of Ireland’s nonprofit sector. 

Amongst the many findings contained in the report, it states that Irish nonprofits currently employ 163,000 people, and that pay in the sector falls way below the norm for the rest of the economy. 

Commenting on the launch report, Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said: “This report illuminates a hidden part of our economy that is often overlooked. Benefacts have collated valuable data on the immense contribution the nonprofit sector makes to Irish society and, importantly our economy. The new data will be of great value to charities, regulators, funders and the public.”

The Wheel also called on the Charities Regulator and Department of Rural and Community Development to prioritise the introduction of statutory financial reporting standards for charities:

 “Charities are currently required to submit finical information to a variety of regulators and funders, including the Charities Regulator, Company’s Office, Revenue and their statutory and private funders. However, while many charities are applying accounting standards like SORP voluntarily, there is still no mandatory standard for financial reporting. We urge the Charities Regulator and Department of Rrural and community Development to work together to expedite the legislation needed to implement a financial reporting standard for charities.

“In the meantime, all charities should comply with the Charity Regulator’s new Governance Code which recommends that charities produce unabridged (full) financial accounts and that they make these accounts publicly available. The Code will become mandatory in 2021, but we need to place financial reporting standards on a statutory footing to provide clarity and optimal transparency”, said Mr Cooper.

/ENDS

Members of local community and voluntary groups are invited to attend an information event on the forthcoming Europeans elections at the Strand Hotel in Limerick on Monday 1 April. The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, will host the event with support from the European Parliament Liaison Office (EPLO) and the European Commission Representation in Ireland.

Attendees will hear from a cross party selection of declared candidates for the Southern Constituency, including sitting MEPs Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael) and Liadh Ni Riadh (Sinn Féin) and election hopefuls Councillor Malcolm Byrne (Fianna Fáil), Senator Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party), former Secretary General of the INTO, Sheila Nunan (Labour) and Councillor Breda Gardener (independent). 

This will be an excellent opportunity to learn about the upcoming European elections, discuss the key election issues, network and hear from declared candidates. The event will conclude with a moderated discussion and Q&A session on the importance of engaging with Europe.

This is a free event, but registration is required at www.wheel.ie/EU2019

//Ends

 

Charities Institute Ireland (Cii) and The Wheel have jointly welcomed the signing by the Minister for Finance of the Ministerial Order that brings the VAT Compensation Scheme for Charities into effect. The €5million scheme was announced in Budget 2018, and compensates charities for a proportion of the VAT they incur on expenditure related to independently raised income.

Charities will be able to claim for VAT paid from the 1st January 2018, and to make claims once a year for VAT paid in the previous year. 

In a joint statement welcoming the announcement, Scott Kelley, Interim Chief Executive of Cii and Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel said: “Irish Charities have worked closely with Department of Finance and Revenue officials on the detailed implementation of the VAT compensation scheme, and we are delighted that today the Minister has formally signed the Order which brings the scheme into effect.” 

Irish charities are major buyers of goods and services in the economy and are liable to VAT on their purchases. The new scheme will return some of that money to charities to enable them to enhance services and provides an incentive to increase their fundraising efforts. 

We expect that many charities will benefit from this new scheme, which represents a major acknowledgement by government of the role and contribution of charities to Irish society. If the total claims exceed the €5 million allocated, charities will be paid on a pro rata basis.  In time, we hope that this scheme can be expanded after the initial three-year period to which the Minister has committed, Scott Kelley and Deirdre Garvey said.

Full details of the scheme may be accessed on: www.finance.gov.ie/news/latest-news/

For further information please contact

The Wheel - John Gallagher Tel. 087 9369888


Ireland’s Top Charities Honoured at 2018 Charity Impact Awards

Mary Fitzgerald, a County Clare woman who set up ground-breaking services for victims of domestic violence, was this evening named as the winner of the 2018 Community Hero Award at The Wheel’s Charity Impact Awards in Dublin.

The Community Hero Award is a lifetime achievement award honouring a person who has made an extraordinary contribution to a good cause over the course of their lives. Mary was one of ten volunteers nominated for this prestigious award.

Mary has been volunteering for over 35 years with various causes in her native Co. Clare and as far afield as India. In the early 90s, she became aware of the plight of women and children fleeing from domestic abuse who, because of a lack of local support services, were often staying overnight in local Garda stations. She took some of these women and children into her own home and, in 1993, she established Clare Haven Services to provide refuge to families fleeing abuse in Co. Clare.  

Today Clare Haven Services is a leading provider of services for the victims of domestic abuse in Co. Clare. Mary also established Haven Horizons, a national charity that works to break the cycle of domestic abuse through international best practice and evidence-based prevention models.

Mary was presented with the honour at the Charity Impact Awards ceremony, hosted at the Mansion House in Dublin. The Wheel, the national association of charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises, established these awards to celebrate the positive impact made in our communities by Ireland’s 29,000 non-profit organisations.

Commenting on Mary's achievement, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel, said, "Though their work, people like Mary enrich and improve our communities, and the charities they support make a difference to millions of lives, both here and across the world. The aim of the Charity Impact Awards is to recognise and showcase this important contribution.”

Awards were also presented to:

One hundred and four non-profit organisations and volunteers were nominated for the Charity Impact Awards and over 19,000 people voted for their favourite nominees. The stories of all the nominees are available at www.charityimpactawards.ie.

 //Ends

 

Community and voluntary groups are being invited to sign up to a new national initiative designed to help communities become more sustainable. Community projects that join the Spark Change Challenge by 31 January 2019 will be given access to expert advice, information resources, free training and small grants for local information events. In 2019, Ireland’s top sustainability projects will be showcased at the inaugural Spark Change Awards.

The Spark Change Challenge was developed by The Wheel, the national association of nonprofits and Trinity College Dublin to help communities become more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research Programme, the project will illuminate how community and voluntary activity is contributing to Ireland’s commitment to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Commenting on the Spark Change Challenge, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said, “We live on a fragile planet with finite resources and our individual actions have a global impact. To ensure that future generations have enough resources to meet their needs, we have to take steps today to make our communities more sustainable. Spark Change provides an incentive for communities to take the first step Spark Change Challenge and sharing their success stories to inspire other communities. The Spark Change website [www.sparkchange.ie] is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to set their community on a path to a more sustainable future. Here you will find case studies, free resources and all the information you need to complete the Spark Change Challenge.” towards becoming more sustainable. We want to empower the doers in every community to spark change by signing up to the 

Dr Vincent Carragher, Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin added, “Sustainability is often associated with the environment, but there are also economic and social sides to sustainable development. It is something everyone can work towards, whether it is picking up litter, planting a community garden, creating a sustainable employment scheme, campaigning for gender equality or promoting health and wellbeing, anyone can help to make their community, Ireland and our planet more sustainable.”

Any community and voluntary organisation, individual or group of people with a shared vision can sign-up to the Spark Change Challenge. All participating projects must be based in the Republic of Ireland.

Shane Colgan from the Environmental Protection Agency said, “The EPA’s vision is of a clean, healthy and well-protected environment supporting a sustainable society and economy.  We welcome the launch of the Spark Change initiative as a vital step along the way to helping Ireland make the necessary transition to a sustainable future.  Spark Change will work to connect great projects in local communities all across Ireland to the worldwide sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations.”

You can sign up for the challenge at www.sparkchange.ie 

 

/END

 

The Wheel, the national association of charities, welcomes the publication today of the Charities Regulator’s new Code of Governance for Charities but calls on Government to streamline and fund compliance requirements.

 Commenting on the launch of the Code of Governance for Charities, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said, “High governance standards are key to maintain public trust and confidence in the work of Ireland’s 10,000 charities, and this new code is a welcome addition to the voluntary codes and standards that the sector has developed in recent years. It will be an important resource to help charities attain best governance practice”.

The Wheel notes that charities are facing many new compliance requirements from various agencies and that there are costs associated with meeting these requirements. Ms Garvey added, “The new Code places significant compliance and documentary requirements on all charities, additional to the many requirements that already exist. We are calling on Government to:

  • initiate a process to streamline all the various compliance requirements, and 
  • ensure that Government agencies contribute to meeting the compliance costs of the organisations they fund.

“Charities welcome and have long demanded clear regulation and oversight. However, the state and relevant agencies must facilitate charities to fulfil their compliance requirements. We cannot afford to waste valuable public resources and volunteers’ time on unnecessary form filling and duplication. It needs to be streamlined now”, said Ms Garvey.

“The Wheel will be monitoring the impact of the Code of Governance on Ireland’s 10,000 charities. The feedback we gather should be included in a review of the Code following an initial roll-out period,” said Ms Garvey.

The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of charities, welcomes the outcome of a legal challenge taken by Amnesty International Ireland against the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC). Last November, Sipo ordered Amnesty to return a donation made in August 2015 by the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a body founded by businessman George Soros, for Amnesty’s international ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign. The order was quashed by the High court earlier today.

Commenting on today’s decision Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel said, “The government should now introduce clarifying amendments to the Electoral Acts of 1997 and 2001 to ensure that charities and community-based organisations can continue working to develop, improve or change government policy affecting the people on whose behalf they advocate.

“Existing legislation rightly seeks to prevent wealthy individuals and groups, particularly from outside the state, from interfering in Irish elections and referendum. Lack of clarity in the wording could, however, potentially muzzle legitimate and important voices in civil society, including community organisations, non-profits, charities and international NGOs when making representations to government,” said Ms Garvey.

She added that the vague definition of 'third-party' should be legally clarified, “A local group campaigning for better street lighting, for a neighbourhood playground or even a Tidy Towns Committee could fall within this category, simply by accepting a donation over €100.

“This vague definition of political purpose was identified by the Standards in Public Offices Commission (Sipoc) as far back as 2003, but consecutive governments failed to correct the legal anomaly.”

“The government should, therefore, bring forward the necessary amendments to clearly exempt those advocating for causes they espouse, such as the development of a specific national policy on housing or contributing to government consultations, from third-party provisions contained in the Electoral Acts,” said Ms Garvey.

The Wheel is a member of a coalition of organisations who are committed to working with Government to find a better solution. The coalition is led by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

ENDS

Coalition 2030 Challenges Government’s First Progress Report to UN Body

Coalition 2030, an alliance of over 100 Irish civil society organisations and networks, today expressed concern that Ireland is falling behind on its commitment to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The coalition outlined its concerns in a report published as the Irish Government prepares to present its first progress report on the SDGs at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday (17 July).

In its report, Coalition 2030 acknowledges the tremendous role played by the Irish Government in getting global agreement on the SDGs and the progress it has made to date to map progress towards the goals. However, Coalition 2030 warns that there are significant gaps in the Government’s National Implementation Plan for the SDGs launched by Minister Denis Naughten in April.

Speaking in New York, Suzanne Keatinge, CEO of Dóchas, the Irish association of non-governmental development organisations said, “Much greater urgency and political leadership will be required if we are to ensure the transformative change that the SDGs envisage by 2030. The Government needs to develop a realistic costing and prioritise targets and outcomes, but also involve all stakeholders, particularly civil society, in that process. Only then will we meet the ambition of the SDGs which is to make sure that the needs of the poorest and most marginalised in society, at home and abroad, are met sustainably and for future generations.”

In its independent report, Coalition 2030 calls for greater focus on developing national policies to support the implementation of the SDGs, “Arguably the greatest threat to Ireland’s implementation of the SDGs is a pronounced lack of policy coherence.  Greater focus has to be placed on the inter linkages between the 17 Goals which makes them so transformative. This issue is particularly manifest in Ireland’s poor performance in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and failure to stem the downward spiral in Ireland’s biodiversity. As part of the National SDGs Implementation Plan, the government, in consultation with the National Economic and Social Council, should strengthen a whole-of-government approach to the SDGs,” said Michael Ewing from the Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 29 Irish environmental NGOs.

Also commenting on the report, Dr Sean Healy, CEO of Social Justice Ireland said, "Ireland's performance on the Sustainable Development Goals is particularly bad on environment and inequalities. This emphasises the need for Government to put these SDGs at the centre of policy formation across the board. Much of what Ireland is doing is damaging people, the economy or the environment. Ireland needs much more committed action to build a future consistent with the SDGs."

David Joyce from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions added that “Ireland as one of the richest countries in the world have to do better and move faster than most in meeting SDG targets. Ireland has the potential to be the best performer on every single goal, showing that it is possible to combine economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The report being delivered to the UN this week shows we have a long way to go in terms of leaving nobody behind. “

Valerie Duffy, Development Education Coordinator at National Youth Council of Ireland said, “To achieve the SDGs we also need education for transformative change. We need education that enables all people to participate meaningfully, to critically engage in sustainable development, and to imagine and create new futures. This is a central part of SDG 12, which is under review at this year’s High Level Political Forum. Goal 12 requires Member States to mainstream Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development.”

Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel, the national association of charities said, “Dialogue with stakeholders is absolutely essential and we need everybody working together all the way from the State down to the grassroots movements if we are to achieve these goals."

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals, which reflect the totally intertwined economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.  All UN member states committed to using them to frame their national agendas and political policies to reach the targets by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are therefore an essential framework to guide the future direction of Irish domestic and foreign policy, as well as the development of a healthy and sustainable society and economy in Ireland.

Coalition 2030’s report is available at www.ireland2030.org/report-2018/

#Agenda2030

ENDS

Three landmark reports addressing the barriers to political, social and economic participation were launched in Dublin today at a special summit hosted by The Wheel, the national association of charities, and the Carnegie UK Trust. The reports originate from The People’s Conversation, an initiative to support and encourage people to participate in shaping our future through dialogue.

The first of the reports, Money Matters, explores the extent and implications of financial exclusion in Ireland outlines recommendations for improving the current situation. The report looks at the extent of poverty in Ireland and the impact this has on people. It presents a brief analysis of income adequacy, whether people are out of work and dependent on access to social welfare supports, or in work and need decent adequate take-home pay. It also maps the employment, education and training services that are available nationally to support people into the labour market.

The second report, Powering Civil Society sets out a vision and a plan for how active citizenship can be supported by a thriving, independent community, voluntary and charity sector, and how, in turn, the active citizenship represented by civil society organisations can be supported by the establishment of a participatory public governance system.

The third report, A Two-Way Street, addresses the role of public servants in citizen participation. The report concludes that on the basis of the citizen’s jury that was piloted in Galway in recent years by the PeopleTalk initiative, we need to rethink the mediating role of the public servant in a democratic culture which is truly participative.

Commenting on the launch of the reports, Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said, “Taken together, we believe the three reports present a coherent analysis of the challenges we face as a society to ensure everyone can participate and fully realise their potential as human beings. We encourage everyone to read the full reports at www.peoplesconversation.ie, disseminate them widely, and feedback views through the comments section at the website.”

“The Wheel will be working to engage with policymakers and communities, and with our partners, in bringing the necessary change about, change aimed at ensuring that all people have the means to participate, and are afforded opportunities to participate in our democracy to proactively shape our collective futures for the common good,” said Mr Cooper.

The can be accessed at www.peoplesconversation.ie

This video provides a brief overview of the three reports.

#Enabling Citizens

The Wheel, the national association for charities, today called on Government to implement measures to relieve growing pressure on Ireland’s 10,000 charities.

Addressing the National Summit for the Charity Sector at Croke Park, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel also proposed adoption of the charity sector’s people-centred approach to care services as a model for health reform in the HSE. This should form part of overall public service reform to release the potential of the voluntary sector

Ms Garvey said, “Charities are implementing a growing list of reporting requirements from multiple regulators, funders and state bodies. There is excessive duplication between the various reporting processes, and this is adding to the administrative burden on charities.”

A recent survey of 312 charities conducted by The Wheel found that 62 percent of charities say their staff are under increased pressure because of the growth in reporting requirements, while 58 percent say their administrative costs have gone up.

These costs are set to increase with as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force on Friday, 25 May.

“We are calling on the Charities Regulator to implement their commitment to promoting an initiative to coordinate and streamline the multiple reports charities have to file with various state bodies, including the Companies Registration Office, the Charities Regulator itself, the Lobbying Regulator and, for many charities, the HSE, TUSLA and HIQA. Charities welcome regulation and oversight, but these organisations cannot afford valuable public resources on unnecessary form-filling and duplication.”

In relation to the reform of public services, Ms Garvey said, “The recent series of crises in the HSE shows that the current accountability process involving senior officials is neither effective nor appropriate in the health and social care setting.

“On the other hand, the model of direct contact with accountability to service users provided by the community and voluntary sector makes charities both highly effective and compassionate at delivering people-centred services.

“Any reform of the HSE should draw on and adopt the people-centred approach delivered by charities.”

Ms Garvey also called for Government to implement the national strategy for the charity sector: “The current programme for government includes a commitment to develop a strategy for the community and voluntary sector. A process is already underway in the Department of Rural and Community Development, but we need this strategy progressed and implemented as a matter of urgency. Nonprofit organisations (many of which are charities) sustain 158,000 jobs, generate an annual turnover of €12.1bn, and mobilise an army of nearly half a million citizens to provide 230 million hours of unpaid work, valued at over €2bn per year. Most importantly, the sector provides essential services and supports to society in areas such as community development, health and social care provision.”

“Together these measures will help to unlock the potential of the community and voluntary sector, and help to address the many deficits in our health and social care services,” said Ms Garvey.

The National Charity Summit is Ireland’s largest annual gathering of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. Then the two-day event will attract representatives of over 200 organisations and attendees will hear from over 40 speakers. The event is organised by The Wheel, the largest representative body for the charity sector.

#wheel18

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Ireland's national association for charities, The Wheel today warmly welcomed a report by the Charities Regulator that lays the foundations for a new governance code for the charity sector. The Charities Regulator launched the report of its Consultative Panel on the Governance of Charitable Organisations at an event in Dublin earlier today.

Commenting on the launch of the Charities Regulator’s report, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said: “This report is highly significant in that it acknowledges the uniqueness of charities and the distinct and specific challenges faced by the many unpaid trustees who volunteer freely of their time to govern our charities. It is another important step marking a more engaged relationship between the state and the community, voluntary and charity sector. We are delighted to see that the Regulator has committed to developing the new Governance Code for Charities in collaboration with the sector and that the regulator has also committed to promoting efforts to streamline compliance and reporting duplication facing charities” said Ms Garvey

Ms Garvey added that as a member of the Consultative Panel on the Governance of Charities, The Wheel has worked closely with the Charities Regulator to ensure the proposed governance framework takes a proportionate approach - especially towards smaller charities. 

Ireland’s nonprofit organisations (many of which are charities) sustain 158,000 jobs, generate an annual turnover of €12.1bn, and mobilises an army of nearly half a million citizens to provide 230 million hours of unpaid work – valued at over €2Bn - per year. Most importantly, the sector provides essential services and supports to society in areas such as community development, health and care provision.

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The Wheel and partners Early Years Northern Ireland are today hosting a conference on the role of civil society in Europe at Trinity College Dublin. The half-day conference celebrates the end of the Atlantic Philanthropies funded project Access Europe, which aimed to build the capacity of Irish civil society organisations to access EU funding.

The conference is partly funded by the European Parliament through the Europe’s Future project, which intends to activate community involvement in European decision-making. The event will hear the findings of the Access Europe project, stimulate engagement with key stakeholders, and spark discussion on possible future engagement in Europe, post-2020.

A number of speakers will take part in a series of talks and panels throughout the day, including Lynn Boylan MEP; Catherine Day, Former Secretary General of the European Commission; Hugh Quigley, Chairman of Access Europe; Siobhan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Early Years Northern Ireland; and Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body. Brian Harvey, social researcher and evaluator of Access Europe, presented the results of the project and a host of organisations that have been successful in EU funding shared their projects and experiences, including Youth Work Ireland, the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Participants also have the opportunity to explore a showcase of European funding programmes available and learn about their potential from the various contact points who will be present on the day.

Speaking ahead of the event Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said: “EU funding offers a multitude of exciting possibilities for civil society organisations in Ireland. Engaging in European projects can benefit organisations of all sizes, allowing them to develop new research, ideas, programmes, and resources; collaborate with and learn from partners throughout Europe, and build an international profile. We encourage all Ireland's community and voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises to explore these wonderful opportunities.”

Those interested in learning more about civil society and the future of Europe are advised to contact The Wheel at europe@wheel.ie for further information.

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The Wheel, the national association of charities, today launched a new resource in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to help communities achieve greater sustainability. The free online Sustainable Communities toolkit provides community and voluntary organisations with practical guidance for implementing sustainability solutions within both rural and urban communities.

The toolkit covers five topics:

  1. · ecological integrity
  2. · health and wellbeing
  3. · participation and engagement
  4. · culture and heritage
  5. · economic resilience.

Each of the above-mentioned topics is covered in a separate section with a video introduction, case studies, a list of suggested actions and access to other resources and supports.

Speaking today at the launch of the Sustainable Communities toolkit at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Dublin, Johnny Sheehan, Membership and Regional Coordinator at The Wheel said: “This toolkit aims to support local communities across Ireland to awaken an awareness, deepen understanding and activate participation in sustainable development with a view to living better by using less. We seek to shine a light on what is already there, validate and recognise this work and provide some frameworks for communities using this toolkit to draw on for your own organisation and community context.”

The toolkit can be used free of charge at www.sustainabletoolkit.ie

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