Irish-American philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman has claimed the Irish charity sector is in disarray in light of the latest Rehab revelations.
A former chairman and driving force behind the American Ireland Fund, Brennan Glucksman has spoken of her dismay at cutting a family holiday short and flying to Ireland at her own expense to hear Frank Flannery speak on a tax initiative to stimulate philanthropy - only to discover he was financially profiting from the drive.
She has also told the Sunday Independent of how disturbing revelations about the finances of Irish charities are having a ‘chilling effect’ on the fund-raising sector.
Brennan Glucksman has helped raised over half a billion dollars for Irish causes and was part of a group of charity bosses who attended a meeting at the Irish parliament to hear Mr Flannery speak about the proposal.
She has told the paper that she was not aware at the time that the former Fine Gael strategist was paid almost $100,000 a year by Rehab in a campaign to seek tax changes from the Government to boost philanthropic donations from Ireland’s tax exiles.
She said: “I had no idea. I never considered for a moment there would be a payment for anyone.
“The charity sector has taken such a battering and we were in a situation of disarray to begin with - that’s what the whole discussion was for, to see how we could address that - and now it has been dealt another blow and it’s very disconcerting.
“I feel confused with the tidal wave of information and I feel very sad. I think Frank is a good man, I think this is very atypical. There’s been a lot of confusing information and I don’t pretend to know the facts of the matter but I feel sad for him and his family.
“I want to believe it has resulted from a series of misunderstandings but the fact of the matter is that this sector that my husband and I have worked in for the last 30 years is in a total state of chaos and that is very concerning to me.”
Brennan Glucksman and her late husband personally contributed $27 million to projects in Ireland, including the Glucksman Gallery in UCC and the libraries in universities in Limerick and Trinity.
In the interview she has described recent revelations to come out of the charity sector as alarming and has given a stark warning for the future of fundraising for worthwhile causes.
Brennan Glucksman warned: “This is going to have a chilling effect in the sector for years to come. It’s going to take us so long to build back any sort of trust or confidence.
“It’s a shame because so many really, really fine people have put so much work into it and now, with something like this, it makes people question everything.
“And there’s no way to rebut that. You can’t say we didn’t do that because, who knows? There is such a climate of suspicion and that’s anathema to the goodwill that you want to raise money for charity.”
She did add that she is determined to carry on the work of the American Ireland Fund.
The philanthropist said: “We never ever allowed anything to go astray, even in the most innocuous way, and now everyone is looking at anyone in the sector with the same sort of question and suspicion.”
Presented with the Rehab International Person of the Year award last September, she said: “It was the only time I have ever had any dealings at all with Rehab except to read about them.
“I don’t feel any different because I still don’t know what happened, but I am not in the judgement business, so I won’t make any decision until I have a lot more information.”