Calls for Red Cross to resolve Athlone dispute as local branch account frozen

Mayor of Athlone John Dolan is calling on the Irish Red Cross to take urgent steps to resolve a dispute with its Athlone branch, which led to the bank account of the local branch being frozen.

It is understood that a disagreement over the use of an ambulance and other equipment by local volunteers led to the decision by the national body to restrict access to the Athlone accounts.

A statement from the Irish Red Cross highlighted “concern that the standard operational procedures were not followed with regard to the use of an Irish Red Cross ambulance”.

As a result a bank account belonging to the Irish Red Cross, for use by its volunteer branch in Athlone and containing a small amount of money (€2,444 ), has been temporarily frozen. The organisation says this step was taken “as a precaution due to concerns that rules of the organisation have not been followed”, and that it hoped the matter would be resolved as quickly as possible. They stressed that the Athlone branch had not been closed.

Speaking to the Advertiser after the news broke, Cllr Dolan said the work of the Athlone branch was crucial, and that he hoped there would be a speedy resolution.

“I hope it can be resolved, as the Red Cross do vital work in the area, especially at times of winter flooding. I would like to see the local branch reinstated immediately,” he said.

Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran also urged people not to jump to conclusions, but to give the local branch the opportunity to clarify matters.

“I would ask people not to be too critical. The Red Cross have been a huge support to the people of Athlone in recent times of flooding and freezing conditions. It may only be a matter of clarifying a couple of things, and we need to allow time for the Red Cross to have the opportunity to do that.

“We are told this won’t affect services locally, and that if there is an emergency they are still there to work with the people of Athlone,” he added.

In the statement issued by the Red Cross, the body said the whereabouts and condition of all lifesaving equipment belonging to the charity must be known at all times, and that the steps taken in relation to the Athlone branch were “standard governance procedure”.

They added that all monies in the Athlone account would continue to be used as specified, and that any commitments made to assist those impacted by flooding will be honoured.

Any donations and queries regarding flooding assistance should be directed to the Irish Red Cross on (01 ) 6424600 or [email protected].

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