« BackCEO of Kerry charity suspended from board of Medical Charities Research Group

The CEO of the Saoirse Foundation, Tony Heffernan, has been suspended from the board of the Medical Charities Research Group.

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This group is an umbrella organisation of over 30 of the largest medical, research and patient support charities in Ireland.

It represents the joint interests of charities specialising in medical research, diagnosis and treatment and the prevention of disease.

The Saoirse Foundation was founded by Tony and Mary Heffernan from Keel whose two children died of a rare, incurable disease.

The foundation established the Bumbleance service, a special ambulance service for sick children.

The Medical Research Group membership includes the Asthma Society of Ireland, the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society.

Chairman of the board of the group Philip Watt, who is also CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, confirmed to Radio Kerry that Mr Heffernan has been suspended from the board and the Saoirse Foundation has been suspended as a member charity of the organisation.

Mr Watt would not comment as to the reason for the suspension but added that the matter would be discussed at the next board meeting of the group.

Mr Heffernan had been one of its thirteen board members.

When contacted by Radio Kerry, Mr Heffernan and the foundation did not wish to comment on the suspension from MRCG.

The Charities Regulator is continuing its investigation of a complaint made against the Saoirse Foundation last year which also saw four directors resigning from its board citing governance issues.

Following the resignations, the foundation engaged Deloitte to carry out a review of its governance.

Tony Heffernan has always maintained that complaints made against the charity are completely inaccurate and said he has always fully supported a governance review of the foundation.