Friends of Breastfeeding have discovered that a former National Committee member of the charity, between July 2019 and March 2020, stole a significant amount of money from the charity.
The money taken amounts to almost the entirety of the charity’s direct fundraising efforts for 2019. It includes the profit made from the All About Baby Fair 2019 and the Friends of Breastfeeding 10th Anniversary Gala Awards. It also includes donations received from the public at Mum2Mum Groups, via raffles, and other direct donations.
We reported the criminal activity to the Gardai as soon as it was discovered and we have assisted with their investigation throughout this difficult year. An arrest has been made and a file has been sent to the D.P.P.. Operating under instruction from the Gardaí, we were not in a position to make this fraud public until now so as not to jeopardise the investigation.
While we are deeply saddened to have become the victims of fraud, we fully accept our duty and responsibility to ensure every donation is used properly and for the purposes for which it was intended. As such, a thorough review of our procedures and practices has been conducted and we have already addressed the weaknesses identified. We have appointed a Vice Treasurer, which is an additional position to support our Treasurer. We have strengthened and amended many of our procedures to safeguard our finances going forward and help ensure nothing like this can happen again. We have also engaged an independent auditor to fully review our accounts and a barrister to conduct an independent governance audit. We are 100% committed to taking whatever measures are necessary to safeguard donations and the charity.
We are immensely grateful for the advice and guidance we have received from many quarters in dealing with this situation. We have been aided and supported by the Gardaí; charities advisory groups; individual advisors who gave of their time and expertise free of charge; and our professional advisors who have been responsive and thorough in guiding us through the necessary steps we have needed to follow. We have received understanding and encouragement from our funders and supporters, for which we are very grateful. It has been an intense learning experience for all of us and we are indebted to many people for the assistance we have received.
Our systems and structures are now stronger than ever and our team is passionate, cohesive and committed. Most of all this experience has affirmed our commitment and willingness to work tirelessly to support breastfeeding in Ireland and we will continue to do so with your trust and support.
We have prepared a Q&A document, posted on our website, to answer any questions you might have and if you have any additional ones we will try to answer them with as much transparency as possible.
You can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edel Quirke BL
Acting Chair, Friends of Breastfeeding
RCN 20074197, CHY No. 19054