We the Board of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Ireland’s leading penal reform NGO, write to express our serious and collective concern in respect to s.55 Charities Act 2009.
On October 15, 2014, the board lost an esteemed colleague, forced to resign due to the commencement of this section. Section 55 provides that our former colleague should “cease to be qualified for, and shall cease to hold, the position of charity trustee of a charitable organisation” because he was, in a former life, convicted on indictment of a criminal offence.
Not only does this reprehensible provision operate to prevent him from sitting on our charitable Board, s.56 also creates a criminal offence where a person “acts or purports to act” as a charitable trustee at a time where s.55 has operated to disqualify him.
It is imperative for the Government to immediately consider amendment; not only to align this Act with a sensible policy of reintegration but to allow us to welcome back a colleague who has generously provided immense insight, wisdom and clarity and whose absence leaves a void which cannot otherwise be filled.
Professor Michael O’ Flaherty
Professor Joe Barry
Dr. Johnny Connolly
Kathleen Leader B.L.
Dr. Kevin Warner
Deirdre Malone (Executive Director)