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Former boss of American Ireland Funds charity paid €560k for five months' work

David Cronin stepped down from his role in May of last year after less than 12 months in the prestigious post
David Cronin  Photo: Aengus McMahon

David Cronin Photo: Aengus McMahon

Gordon Deegan

The former Co Kerry boss of charity, The American Ireland Funds (AIF), was paid $645,107 (€569,661) for five months work last year.

Killarney man, David Cronin stepped down from his role as CEO and President of the AIF in May of last year after less than 12 months in the prestigious post.

Now, new documentation lodged by the philanthropic organisation with the US tax authorities shows Mr Cronin received the $645,107 pay package for five months last year.

The $645,107 package includes a severance pay-out of $275,004 to Mr Cronin “per his voluntary separation agreement”, according to the documentation.

Mr Cronin only took up the role in June 2019 after his appointment in April of that year and departed from the organisation in May 2020.

It was reported at the time that Mr Cronin was leaving the New York-based role to return to Ireland for family reasons.

Prior to his appointment to head up the AIF in 2019, Mr Cronin had worked in philanthropy where he had raised $100m in his role as CEO of the University of Limerick (UL) Foundation over a decade.

Mr Cronin’s 2020 pay also included a bonus of $70,000. Mr Cronin’s base pay totalled $286,767 and he also received $13,336 in non-taxable benefits.

Mr Cronin’s 2020 pay followed a pay-package from June to the end of December 2019 of $345,522

The major components of Mr Cronin’s 2019 pay was base pay of $250,962 and a bonus of $80,000.

On the 2020 severance payment to Mr Cronin, a spokeswoman for the AIF said: “The payment was pursuant to Mr. Cronin’s employment contract which was subject to review and approval by the Compensation Committee of the Board; and included an analysis by an outside compensation consultant to benchmark with similar US Non Government Organisations (NGOs)/Charity organisations.”

Mr Cronin was replaced by Caitriona Fottrell who took up her post on June 30th 2020 and was paid $237,274 for the year that was mainly made up of base pay of $211,414.

Prior to her appointment, Ms Fottrell was the Vice President of The Ireland Funds and has worked with the organisation continuously since 1993.

The base pay in 2020 for the AIF’s Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Conall McGonagle last year totalled $287,437.

In 2018, the AIF was convulsed when it emerged that $711,560 was allegedly embezzled by an employee between 2015 and 2017.

The trial of the former female employee concerning the alleged embezzlement was due to commence in February 2020.

However, the spokeswoman for the AIF has confirmed that due to COVID-19 the trial date has been adjourned into 2022 “and has yet to be confirmed”.

Last year, the AIF increased its revenues by 13.5pc from $18.35m to $20.8m.

This was despite the cancellation of fundraising events due to Covid-19 which resulted in funds from events reducing by 47pc from $7.44m to $3.95m.

The AIF spokeswoman said: “Our revenue in 2020 was ahead of 2019. Despite the difficult conditions and the cancellation of in-person fundraising events in Q2-Q4 2020, our donors responded and continued to generously and strongly support the various programmes of The Ireland Funds throughout the 32 counties. We are very grateful for their continued support.

On 2021, the spokeswoman said: “Despite the difficult conditions, our donors have continued to strongly support our work and we expect our revenue in 2021 to be generally in line with 2020.”

The AIF’s grant awards for last year increased by 13pc from $12.7m to $14.3m while an additional $1.4m was spent on other programme services.

One of the organisation’s initiatives last year was its ‘No Mind Left Behind Scholarship’ where €553,000 was spent on 139 students receiving a ‘No Mind Left Behind Scholarship’.

The AIF is part of the Worldwide Ireland Funds that were founded in 1976 by Sir Anthony O’Reilly and former US ambassador to Ireland, the late Dan Rooney and they have raised over $600m for worthy causes in Ireland and Irish causes around the world benefiting more than 3,200 organisations.

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