herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Leading Irish charities dismissed staff over sex misconduct allegations

Eamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trocaire
Eamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trocaire

A number of Ireland's leading charities have confirmed they sacked staff over sexual misconduct allegations in recent years.

GOAL, Concern, Trocaire and Oxfam Ireland have all dismissed staff members after investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.

The news comes as it was revealed this week that aid workers at British charity Oxfam allegedly hired prostitutes in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Exploitation

The sex allegations led to the resignation of Oxfam deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence earlier this week.

In a statement, the executive director of Trocaire, Eamonn Meehan, said his charity had to take action against one staff member.

"In 2016, a junior member of staff in an ancillary role was accused of sexual exploitation," he wrote in the statement published on the charity's website.

"We held an investigation which found that the individual had breached our code of conduct. He was dismissed immediately.

"There is now a criminal investigation into that incident and Trocaire is assisting the local authorities.

"This is the only such incident relating to staff members to have been reported to us."

The Herald has learned that the individual under investigation is not Irish, and the case relates to a location in an African country.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the charity GOAL said it had experienced between one and two incidents a year since 2010.

The charity said all complaints are throughly investigated, and, where evidence was confirmed, disciplinary action - up to and including dismissal - is taken.

Misconduct

In a statement the charity said it "complies with all requirements of all its institutional donors with regard to the reporting of allegations of wrongdoing, including those relating to sexual misconduct".

The charity said it operates a complaint response mechanism and staff must sign up to a code of conduct.

The charity, Concern, has also carried out internal investigations into claims of sexual misconduct made against more than a dozen staff members in the last 10 years. As a result, individuals were dismissed in three-quarters of the cases.

"The fact that three-quarters of cases resulted in dismissals, reflects how seriously Concern takes any incidents of reported inappropriate behaviour," said a spokesperson.

"Concern expects the highest standards of behaviour from its 3,900 staff worldwide.

"We have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct and believe our safeguarding reporting systems work effectively.

"A thorough analysis of our safeguarding reporting systems over the past 10 years has shown that throughout Concern's home offices and 26 countries of operation we have received an average of one to two reports of sexual misconduct per year," they said.

It is also reported that Oxfam Ireland dismissed a staff member in 2004 after an investigation into an allegation of "gross misconduct".

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