Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (439)

Jerry Buttimer


439. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to regulate the practices of charities using street collectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30074/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Public cash collections are regulated under the Street and House to House Collections Act 1962. All public cash collections must be held in accordance with a collection permit granted in respect of that collection under this Act. Under the 1962 Act, a Chief Superintendent may attach to a collection permit granted by him such conditions in relation to the conduct of the collection authorised by the permit as are, in his opinion, necessary or desirable for the maintenance of public order and the prevention of annoyance to the public, including the occupants of houses visited by collectors.

The Charities Act 2009 provides for an integrated system of mandatory registration and proportionate regulation and supervision of the charities sector in Ireland. The various sections of the Charities Act are subject to implementation through commencement orders. Sections that it was possible to commence in advance of the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority, as provided for under the Act, have been commenced. The remaining sections, including those relating to the provision for non-cash collections under section 93 of the Charities Act, can only be commenced following the establishment of the Authority.

At present, my Department is examining options for resource efficient ways of making progress towards the objectives of the Charities Act 2009. A public and stakeholder consultation was recently conducted by the Department on the implementation of the Act. Issues covered in the consultation paper included the establishment of a Charities Regulatory Authority; the statutory registration of charities and granting of charitable status; and reporting requirements for registered charities. Additional steps to regulate fundraising practice, including the commencement of section 93, will be considered in the context of the further implementation of the Charities Act.

In addition to these statutory provisions, a growing number of charities have agreed to adhere to voluntary codes of practice on fundraising. These were developed by the charities sector, with Government grant support, through umbrella charities organisation Irish Charities Tax Research Ltd. This type of non-statutory approach can be an effective partner to statutory regulation as it allows best practice to respond to changing methods of fundraising and the changing environments in which charities work.

One of the three 'core principles' upon which the codes of practice are based is that of respect by charities for the rights, dignity and privacy of their supporters, clients and beneficiaries. These codes apply to all types of fundraising, including those that are not currently covered by the statutory permits system, such as non-cash collections and solicitations for support via direct debits. My Department continues to give grant support to this project.

Further information about the codes of practice and a list of all charities that have agreed to be bound by the Codes in their fundraising activities can be obtained from the website of Irish Charities Tax Research limited. at www.ictr.ie.