Charitable Status Of State Bodies – Response To Deputy Mick Wallace TD
Deputy Mick Wallace TD recently raised valid questions in the Dáil about the charitable status of what many understand to be State bodies. Indeed, a discussion about what constitutes a charity and the various roles charities play is long overdue.
Some charities are contracted by the State to deliver essential services – especially in the areas of health and social care. These charities deliver specialised and targeted support with a level of compassion and understanding that is difficult to achieve through a centralised health system. Their knowledge and commitment greatly compliment the efforts of the State.
However, while some charities deliver public services on behalf of the State, the role of charities generally is much more wide-ranging. Charities constitute people and communities organising, supporting and speaking up for themselves and others. This “active citizenship” plays a critical and effective role in improving and enriching life for us all. An independent, appreciated, transparent and well-supported charity sector is an essential part of a healthy democracy.
Earlier this year, Health Minister Simon Harris announced a review of the role of voluntary organisations in health and social service provision. The aim is to preserve the best features of the current model while ensuring enhanced collaboration with statutory and voluntary partners. The HSE and Tusla – the Child and Family Agency – have launched similar “commissioning” initiatives to match services to need and acknowledging the respective roles of statutory and voluntary organisations. The Wheel and our 1,300 members welcome and look forward to participating in these and similar initiatives aimed at maximizing the value of the various important contributions that charities make to our national life today.