Country Idealist Profiles

Ireland – Legislation relating to the Non Profit Sector

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - The Third Sector by hynesbrid on August 14, 2008

Important Government Policy Document:
“White Paper on a Framework for Supporting Voluntary Activity and for Developing the Relationship between the State and the Community and Voluntary Sector”, September 2000.   The aim of this white paper is to provide a more cohesive framework of support and encouragement for the Community and Voluntary Sector.  It gives formal recognition to the partnership ethos that informs much of the working relationship between the two sectors, while recognising the differences between them.
http://www.pobail.ie/en/CommunityVoluntarySupports/WhitePaperonCommunityandVoluntaryActivity/file,2200,en.doc


Charities Legislation

The main existing charities legislation comprises:

  • The Charities Acts 1961 and 1973 (with the most recent significant amendment made by the Social Welfare [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act 2002)
  • Charities Regulation Bill

Aspects of fund-raising by charities are addressed in:

  • The Street and House to House Collections Act 1962
  • The Casual Trading Act 1995.

http://www.pobail.ie/en/CharitiesRegulation/

Charities Regulation Bill
In March 2006, the Government proposed new legislation for charities. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, with responsibility for charity law, has since published the Charities Regulation Bill and presented this was presented to the Dáil in April 2007.

The Charities Bill aims to ensure accountability, protect against abuse and fraud, enhance public trust and confidence and increase transparency in the sector. It will provide a new regulatory framework through a combination of legislative provisions, which include:

  • A definition of “charitable purpose” for the first time in primary legislation
  • A mandatory Register of all Charities
  • A Regulatory Authority to secure compliance and encourage better administration
  • Updating law relating to fundraising, particularly for collections, direct debits and other non-cash methods
  • A Charity Appeals Tribunal
  • Dissolution of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests
  • Transfer of jurisdictions vested in the Attorney General in regard to charities
  • Co-operation with statutory bodies on regulatory and law enforcement matters inside and outside the State
  • Consultative panels to assist the Authority and to ensure effective consultation with stakeholders.

In future, charitable status will be dependent on an organisation having charitable purposes only, and being for public benefit, rather than having any particular legal form. Certain kinds of organisations will be excluded from being charitable: e.g. political parties and causes; trades unions and employer representative bodies; chambers of commerce; and any body that promotes unlawful or immoral purposes.  Sporting bodies are also excluded, as they are subject to a separate regime.

Charitable purposes is defined in the Charities Bill as follows:

  • the prevention or relief of poverty or economic hardship
  • the advancement of education
  • the advancement of religion
  • other purposes of benefit to the community, including:
    • community welfare
    • the relief of those in need
    • community development
    • rural or urban regeneration,
    • civic responsibility or voluntary work
    • health and prevention or relief of sickness, disease or suffering
    • conflict resolution or reconciliation,
    • religious or racial harmony and community relations
    • the natural environment
    • prevention or relief of suffering of animals
    • arts, culture, heritage or sciences, and
    • social inclusion.
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