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LGBT charity GLEN to close after financial mismanagement allegations

Nick Duffy May 18, 2017

LGBT charity GLEN is set to close after facing allegations of financial mismanagement and a Charities Regulator probe.

GLEN, formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, is one of the most prominent LGBT organisations in Ireland, and played a key role during the country’s equal marriage referendum.

However, the charity faced scandal last month after allegations of financial mismanagement led to the resignation of the Executive Director and a Charities Regulator probe.

Today, the NGO announced that it would be closing its doors permanently, though it continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Jillian van Turnhout, who was appointed to head an independent review of the charity, said there was evidence of “mismanagement and poor practice”, but cleared the charity of “misappropriation of state or donors funds or any fraudulent activity taking place”.

In a statement, the charity confirmed its closure.

It said: “After considerable discussion the board of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) has today formally decided to put in place arrangements for an orderly wind up of the organisation.

“The board is seeking to ensure that services provided by GLEN will be provided by other organisations and agencies. The timetable for completion of the wind-up will be determined by the successful and timely transfer of these projects.

“GLEN was established in 1988 and has a proud record of achievement in serving the LGBTI community. We have delivered not just a range of services; we have also helped radically reshape the lives of LGBTI people through the achievement of progressive social change, culminating in the successful Marriage Equality campaign in 2015.

“Now, following a comprehensive external review of the operation of GLEN the board has reluctantly concluded that we do not currently have the organisational capacity or funding to continue our work to the high standard to which we have always aspired.”

The statement continues: “The only reason why GLEN exists is to serve the best interests of the LGBTI community. We believe that the needs of the community can best be met by the transfer of key services to other agencies as soon as possible.

“In the absence of external financial support GLEN cannot continue to employ staff and we have therefore been forced to serve redundancy notice on three employees. This is a decision we have not taken lightly and have deferred for as long as possible.

“The board has taken into consideration the views of external consultant, Jillian van Turnhout and is grateful to Jillian for her guidance.”

It explained: “In late 2016 and early 2017 the then former Executive Director brought concerns surrounding the use of credit cards to the Board. Consequently, the board instructed the then Executive Director to make a voluntary disclosure regarding our concerns at a suspected breach of corporate governance rules.”

GLEN added: “On foot of this voluntary disclosure, the organisation is currently being reviewed by the Charities Regulator.

“The board is fully co-operating with the Charities Regulator review and has provided all necessary information requested to date.

“We wish to note that the organisation is under review by the Charities Regulator. No investigation has been commenced by the Charities Regulator, as has been incorrectly reported in the media.

“The board has provided the Charities Regulator with a copy of the recommendations of Jillian van Turnhout. It is an independent report and is included as an appendix to this statement. We have accepted the recommendations of Ms van Turnhout and thank her for her work.”

The statement continued: “In her report, Ms van Turnhout notes that the separate financial review of GLEN’s finances commissioned by the charity and being supplied to the Charities Regulator, state ‘we did not find any evidence of misappropriation of state or donors funds or any fraudulent activity taking place’.

“GLEN has relied on the goodwill, co-operation and funding of various statutory agencies without whom our work in the area of health, education, welfare and policy reform would not have been possible. We would like to thank them for their invaluable support.

The charity said: “We would like to thank the ongoing support of the LGBTI community. Working together in a spirit of solidarity we have achieved much. But now it is time for the baton to be passed and there is still much, much more work to be done.”

GLEN had initially referred itself to the Charities Regulator over concerns about whether it breached rules on the use the charity resources to support political campaigning.

There were also concerns over “alleged poor corporate governance, a lack of internal controls and proper separation of duties”, while the group’s credit cards “may have been used for private purchases, with the money being reimbursed later”.

More: Charity, Europe, financial, Gay, GLEN, Ireland, LGBT, probe

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