Statement from IDS Board and CEO to update you on our current situation

22nd February 2019

Disclaimer: The ISL video for this statement has been translated from the English text and captures all the key points with some differences in the ISL interpretation.

We would like to thank everyone for their patience while we have been in negotiations with the Government about annual funding for the Irish Deaf Society. It has been a long process and everyone on all sides have been working very hard to find a solution.

In addition to the funding we receive from Solas and Pobal, we were hoping that we could identify one or more state organisations that could provide us with further annual funding of €300,000. Broadly speaking, that is €150k for the Advocacy Service and €150k supporting head office costs, for example management and administrator salaries, rent and office expenses.

We met with Government officials, from the Department of An Taoiseach and Minister Finian McGraths office. After long negotiations with the other Government Departments, they have not been able to find a path to the additional annual funding we had requested.

However, we are grateful that they were able to raise a one off €60k to provide a short period of stability while we look at how we can re-structure IDS.

Over the last 38 years we have been on a long journey from a volunteer organisation to a more professionally run organisation with staff. During that time we have learned a lot, we have had successes and we have had failures, we have made good decisions and we have made mistakes.

In recent years IDS has not been as strong as we would like. This lack of strength financially, on our Board and in the structure of staff and services, has been a concern to us, it is a concern to Government and we know it is a concern to the Deaf Community too.

Our vision is to represent the Deaf Community, to promote ISL and to provide better services to more Deaf people.

To do that we know that we need a strong organisation and we take responsibility to make the changes needed to make IDS a stronger and more financially independent organisation in the future. We have conducted a legal compliance review of the Board; as a result, we are working on amendments and updates to the Society’s Memorandum & Articles and governance structures to put before our members as soon as possible.

The challenges we have faced over the last year have made it difficult to attract new board directors but we continue to work hard to build the skills to shape the direction and strategy of IDS.

We have worked on a Stability Strategy, developed new policies and at a management level actively looking for ways to improve our staff structure and quality of our services.

In the short term we have a difficult task ahead of us.

Without the additional funding we hoped for there are a number of roles that are threatened across the organisation. Next week we will begin a 30 day staff consultation period, the first stage of a collective redundancy process. For an organisation our size that means that 5 or more jobs are at risk of redundancy. Over the next month we will work with staff to try and reduce those risks so that we can continue as many services as possible after we re-structure.

Although there is some risk for the whole organisation, the biggest risk is to our Advocacy service which has no funding after May.

We are confident that the IDS will not have to close completely, but to achieve that we will need to reduce expenses and try and increase our fundraising. Over the coming years the charity shops will be an important part of that income. We are working on a short term fundraising plan and working to create more relationships with commercial organisations committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

We are grateful to the Government for funding from Solas (which funds DALS) and Pobal (which in 2019 supports core expenses) without which IDS could not survive. We accept that it has not been possible to find a way to provide the additional annual funding we requested and that now we need to focus on building our own independent sources of income.

We also take responsibility for the difficulties we have had over the last number of years and we are committed to moving forward positively, working hard to make the changes that are needed to build a strong IDS in the future.

We hope that you will continue to support us on that journey.