I am aware the Irish Red Cross has been particularly active in west Cork, especially in response to flooding incidents and supporting businesses in the aftermath. The Irish Red Cross is an independent charitable body with full power to manage and administer its affairs. It has approximately 3,200 members based in 86 branches spread throughout the country. My Department makes an annual grant payment to the Irish Red Cross, towards the administrative running cost of its headquarters. In 2020, this grant amounted to €965,000, which includes Ireland’s contribution of €130,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The grant has been increased by 11% since 2017, following consideration of a business case made by the Irish Red Cross at that time.
A number of other Departments and bodies provide funding to the Irish Red Cross in respect of various programmes provided or administered by them, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Social Protection, which has responsibility for rural and community development, and the Department of Transport, as well as the HSE and various county councils. Full details can be found in the 2019 annual report of the Irish Red Cross.
On the specific issue raised by the Deputy, I am acutely aware of the difficulties that have faced many charities in 2020 due to Covid-19. It has been particularly challenging for charities similar to the Irish Red Cross whose branches throughout the country generate most of their income from community activities, such as attendance at sporting events, concerts, road races and so forth. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has prevented many of these community events from taking place in 2020. The extent to which such events will be possible in the near future will depend on the evolution of the virus over the coming months.
To assist the Irish Red Cross in these difficult times, my Department supported an application for financial assistance from the Department of Social Protection's €35 million Covid-19 stability fund for the community and voluntary sector earlier this year. The Irish Red Cross was allocated the maximum of €200,000 from this fund. I am aware that an additional €10 million in stability scheme funding was allocated to that Department in budget 2021. This will provide further assistance to community and voluntary groups providing critical front-line services to the most vulnerable in our communities. I understand the process for distributing the additional allocation will be finalised shortly. I have asked my officials to bring the challenges being faced by some local branches of the Irish Red Cross to the attention of that Department to ensure they get prioritised.