Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 5 Nov 2008

Vol. 666 No. 1

Charities Bill 2007: Fifth Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank all contributors to the debate on this Bill, in particular Deputies Ring, Wall, Michael D. Higgins and Deputy Ciarán Lynch on behalf of Deputy Wall. I extend my appreciation to my predecessors, Deputy Noel Ahern, who published this long awaited Bill and brought it into the House and to the Chief Whip, Deputy Pat Carey, who dealt with Committee Stage of the Bill.

Also, I thank the Ceann Comhairle, Leas-Cheann Comhairle and Acting Chairmen who have presided so efficiently over the passage of the Bill and, specifically, the Attorney General and his officials who have provided tremendous support at all times, as have the staff of the Bills Office in Leinster House.

I believe we have had a constructive debate on all Stages and although there have been differing views on particular issues, we all had one objective, namely, to put in place an appropriate regulatory framework to enhance public confidence and to protect charities. I believe the issues raised during the debate have resulted in amendments that have improved the Bill. While we often divide on issues we have, through the overall package of measures introduced to regulate and provide public confidence in this sector without overburdening it, achieved the right balance.

I hope the provision that those who are registered with Revenue will transfer across to the authority provides some comfort to those charities concerned from day one about issues of compliance. Also important is the commitment to review this legislation in five years. We may not have got everything right but we have moved a long way towards doing so. I hope this will be beneficial legislation that addresses many of the issues raised in this House.

I thank the Minister and his staff for their many long and courteous briefing sessions on this complex legislation. I also thank Áine Kilroy for her assistance. The legislation was first introduced in the House last December and Committee Stage was dealt with in January. We encountered many problems with this complicated legislation in terms of obtaining legal advice.

I welcome the legislation, as do the charitable organisations. I hope it works. We do not want to over-regulate charities, who do a valuable job, but to make it easier for them to do their job. The general public welcomes this legislation which will regulate charities in terms of permits and their accountability to the regulator. We have a number of regulators in this State and do not necessarily require another one. Perhaps the Minister of State will take another look at this issue which I had great difficulty earlier trying to get agreement on.

I hope this legislation works and deals with issues such as those relating to mass cards and clothing collections, which is a big issue for people. The people of Ireland are generous; they are good at supporting charities and their own. However, they hate to be ripped off by unscrupulous people.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for his courtesy during the debate. I enjoyed participating in the passage of this new legislation. I hope that if a problem arises with it, it will be dealt with as quickly as possible.

I welcome the legislation. As in the case of other legislation, this Bill was slipping through the House under the radar, the manner in which most charity is done. I believe this is informative and important legislation. As stated by Deputy Ring earlier, it is necessary that the content of this legislation be publicised and promoted. We, as Irish people, have a strong tradition of voluntarily donating money to people collecting on the street or of setting up standing orders for payments to charities.

As I said earlier to the Minister of State, Deputy Curran, the biggest donation by Irish people was to the Live Aid concert during the last recession. I do not know whether another Live Aid concert is planned and whether the same will happen again but we are in recession again. Even in times of recession, Irish people give to charity.

The legislation will be sent this evening from this House to the Seanad and will be reviewed in five years time. The Minister, his officials, Deputy Ring and, in particular, my party colleague, Deputy Wall, have done good work in respect of this legislation. The objective and desire, in respect of legislation which passes through this House, is that it will work well. A non-partisan view was taken in regard to this particular legislation which is to the betterment of society. I believe the House has done good work in this regard.

Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.