Follow up on our Illusion of Justice report

PRESS RELEASE 6.08.15

Further to our report ‘Illusion of Justice’ in respect of the Magdalen Women we have been endeavouring to find out the role of Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) who was paid the grant of €250,000 to assist Magdalen Women.

The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald told the Dail that:

To facilitate good governance, the IWSSN registered as a not for profit Company Limited by Guarantee and an agreement was entered into to route the funding through Voluntary Action Camden, a long standing registered Charity which supports, develops and promotes voluntary and community groups.

The once off payment of €250,000 which was made in December 2013 was subject to a number of conditions including the requirement to submit financial statements of the IWSSN with the report of an independent examiner every year that the fund was in existence.

We wrote to Simone Hensby the Chief Executive of VAC because of a serious abuse complaint made by one of our clients against IWSSN. She has refused to answer reasonable requests regarding the receipt of the sum of €250,000 and the terms that these monies were paid on. Further the VAC state that they are not involved in the supervision of Irish Women’s Support Service Network (IWSSN) and that the complaint has to be referred to Sally Mulready the Chair of IWSSN who is also a trustee of VAC.  We have therefore submitted that she is unable to independently investigate her own organisation. It therefore begs the question ‘What did VAC receive a substantial sum of money for?’ IWSSN have their own bank account, so why were the monies paid into a bank account at the VAC? Did they merely receive the monies and then transfer this sum directly into the account of IWSSN or were monies deducted for VAC and if so what were these monies deducted for, if not to assist Magdalen Women?

The Justice Department state that any grievances have to be taken up with IWSSN directly even though they paid the sum of €250,000 to VAC. We submit that they have a duty when making a grant to ensure that vulnerable women are not placed in a situation where they may be subject to abuse.  We have today sent a letter of complaint to the Charities Commission to investigate the grant paid by the Department of Justice Ireland to Voluntary Action Camden. These monies were paid to assist Magdalen Women and we need to establish what actually happened to these monies and what assistance has been provided to the women the grant was supposed to help.

VAC has failed to acknowledge or answer further queries we raised in this matter and this is now a matter for the Charity Commission to investigate the allegations of abuse of vulnerable women and whether there are any financial irregularities or breaches established.  The silence from VAC is concerning and so was the conduct of Sally Mulready at our seminar held in November 2014.

McMahon Solicitors Limited, Basepoint Business Centre, 272 Field End Road

Eastcote, Middlesex HA4 9NA

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