Recent Salary top ups Controversies in Ireland

Of late, the issue concerning salary has been very controversial in Ireland. Early this year, some controversies relating to salary top-ups at charities have erupted in Ireland leading to a total damage threatening the sector. As a result of these controversies, few issues which are hazardous to the sector have emerged. Researchers and stakeholders have been worried by issues such as duration and the extent to which these issues will last and their relative impacts to various charities. There are some charities in the country specifically identified as donations or other funding sources that are used in improving executives’ salaries. As a result of these issues, majority of innocent bystanders are likely to experience a negative impact based on guilt by association. The question that majority are asking themselves is, what the future holds and how they can improve it.

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The research paper is mainly structured into two main categories that are used in describing the structure of the project. The first part involves the research part of the project. While the second part captures the application involving techniques and the methods used when carrying out the research. However, the first part enhances the researcher’s understanding on the recent controversies relating to salary top-ups at charities in Ireland and the emerging issues. It comprises of research definition, strategy, design and methodology used to provide a clear understanding of the report. The second part covers the broader part of the report taking the application approach. This part includes the sampling methods applied, instruments used in the research, the proposed data analysis techniques, the budget and timeline for the research estimates.

Since the start of the year 2014 and slightly there before, the issue relating to top-ups salary controversy has rampantly emerged in Ireland. The issue concerning the recent controversies made majority of Irish people to become less likely to donate to charity. This is according to the latest report of Ipsos, Irish times and MRBI opinion poll. The poll also discovered that voting age population brought a total opposition. They are opposing the practice of using donations in paying top-ups of the executives’ salaries in the charity sector (Scarrow 2009: pp.193-210). The Irish government discovered that this move will negatively affect the sector and cause a negative experience to the innocent bystanders. Majority of citizens are unwilling to support the sector and thus threatening to cancel their donations. The call for yhe research project was to address the issue and discover its future prosperity and strategize on how to improve it.

1. Research definition

             Research comprises of an undertaken creative work on a systematic basis with an aim of increasing the stock of knowledge (Valbuena 2009: p.27). It includes the knowledge of a given scenario, society and culture, and the use of such knowledge to devise new applications. It is used to confirm or establish facts, reaffirm the previous work results, solve existing or new problems and support theorems. A research project can take the form of an expansion on past field work. Research takes different forms such as scientific research, research in the humanities, and artistic research. Scientific research involves application of scientific methods to harness curiosity. It gives scientific theories and information that explains properties and the nature of a given scenario. Research concerned with humanities involves methods such as semiotics and hermeneutics. It a form of research that explores details and issues surrounding a scenario, but not searching for an ultimate correct answer to a question. Artistic research also referred to as ‘practice-based research’ takes form when creative work is put into consideration both the research object and the research itself.

The recent controversies in Ireland concerning salary top-ups are humanitarian issues. Research in the humanities is the best form of research used as it entails details and issues surrounding a scenario, but not giving a specific answer to a question. Other methods were excluded on the basis that they are not based on exploring a scenario. Through the research carried out, it was discovered that 96% of the respondents opposed the use of donations to top-up the salaries of the executives. The remaining had different stands as 2% felt it was acceptable while the other 2% had no opinion. The research spanned all regions, classes and party affiliations. On the issue concerning charity, 69% withdrew their likelihood of donating, 23% argued that it will make no difference, 4% found the question irrelevant as they do not contribute and 4% had no opinion. There was a similar response from people in all regions, classes, and supporters of groupings and political parties. The research was conducted for two days using a representative sample of 1,000 voters from all constituencies.

1.1 Drop in donations

             The research confirmed that Ireland fundraising professionals were claiming that there was a drop of 40% in the charity donations. This was as a result of top-up payments controversy (Harvey 2012: pp.2008-2012). The umbrella professional fundraisers group claimed that they were constantly receiving phone calls from people who wanted to cancel their donations. Anne Hanniffy the HSE Chief Executive Officer, argued that salaries top-ups using donations was having a devastating effect on the sector. She claimed that revelations were a “million miles” from experiences and activities of most organizations, but it revealed that all charities were tarred using the same brush. This scenario brings the most serious period that the Irish non-profit sector is facing. Organizations are extremely concerned that people who are least able to survive without their support like disabled people, sick children and needy families will be most affected by the existing crisis.

Despite the organizational opinions concerning the existing crisis of salary top-ups, Health Service Executives (HSE) and other organizations called upon the government to address the issue (Moran 2012: pp.137-147). Mr. Bell also warned the government that if this issue of pay top-ups was not addressed on equitable basis, it would bring a lot of challenges when trying to address different reforms.

Different arguments has risen in Ireland concerning the controversial issue of salary top-ups using donations. The head of Ireland fundraising claimed that HSE used just a small portion of charities to meet its executives salary. She argued that top-up payments were not an issue as they totally relied on fundraising. She also claimed that it was difficult to reveal whether the recent surrounding controversy will have an effect to the sector. Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) confirmed that they have been recently using public donations to top-up their executives’ salaries. They are given financial support by a separate company known as supporters and friends of Central Remedial Clinic.

2. Research strategy

             A research strategy refers to a plan of action that gives direction to a person’s effort, thus enabling one to conduct a systematic research (Denzin 2010: pp.1-28). It involves discovering new ideas, thinking actively concerning the ideas and working with them. On a research strategy, a researcher may use the existing information and draw up his or her own conclusions, integrate and synthesize original ideas concerning the current scenario. Research strategies are of different forms such as non experimental that has no explicit manipulation, and experimental which manipulates some factors of a given issue. The Irish scenario applies experimental strategy as there are some factors surrounding the situation. They need to be manipulated and come with solutions to the existing issues. Non experimental is excluded on the basis that it does not allow factor manipulation. In a labor party national conference held at Killarney, social protection minister’s daughter Ms Burton revealed that donated funds used by CRC to top-up salaries was “extremely disturbing” (Edwards 2009: pp.595-615). During the meeting, Ms Burton demanded some issues to be made clear. Some of the issues to be manipulated include organizations to come out and clarify the disclosed issues, CRC to provide its fundraising details and their addition sources of income, lastly CRC was expected to give an account of how they have spent that money. She also emphasized that the public needed an assurance that their money generously donated to charities were used for the correct purpose.

The internal audit carried out last year concerning HSE revealed that almost €250, 000 was spent annually (Crilly 2013: p.8). The money was used to cater for allowances of six senior executives, in addition to their state-funded salaries. These allowances utilized by the CRC were termed as unauthorized and that they have breached the pay policy of the public sector. The clinic has also been accused of misusing the funds donated to vulnerable adults and children. The company had € 14 million in total funds at the end of year 2011 when it stopped giving services to the less privileged in the society. Instead of directing the money to the children and adult care, the clinic invested the money on capital projects. On the issue regarding salaries of the senior organizational members, the clinic revealed that since 2009, they agreed with HSE to increase the salaries of 9 individuals at the management level.

3. Research methodology and design

             Methodology refers to a systematic, theoretical analysis of the applied methods to a field of study (Eiben 2012: pp.582-587). It, typically and encompasses concepts like theoretical model, paradigm, phases and qualitative or quantitative techniques. It is not set to provide solutions but to provide a theoretical underpinning for elaborating the best method can be used. On the other hand, research design is the overall strategy chosen to integrate different study components in a logical and a coherent way (Parahoo 2010: p.142). It ensures effective ways of addressing the research problem. It is the blueprint for the measurement, collection and data analysis. Research design is broadly categorized into descriptive research, exploratory research, Qualitative research and non-experimental research.

3.1 Exploratory research

             Polit et al (2011: p.19) argued that explorative research is carried out when investigating a new area or when a little information is known about the area of interest. It is used to investigate nature of a phenomenon and other related factors.

3.2 Descriptive research

             According to Grove and Burns (2009: p.201), it is a form of research designed to reveal a picture of a given scenario as it happens naturally. It can be used to justify recent practices, make judgments and develop theories.

3.3 Qualitative research

             According to Grove and Burns (2009: p.19), it is a systematic subjective approach applied to describe situations and life experiences. It is also a form of social enquiry focusing on how people make and interpret sense of their experience and their living world.

3.4 Non-experimental research

             It is used in studies with an aim of describing a situation where it is unethical for independent variables to be manipulated (Polit 2009: p.178). It is a suitable research of studying people in nursing sector.

The research project concerning the recent scenario in Ireland applied exploratory research. It is used by researchers when they want to produce hypotheses of what is happening in a situation. The recent controversies concerning salary top-up in Ireland needs to be explored. This will minimize the existing misappropriation of funds between organizations and their senior management. Some of the organizations like CRC have been misusing donations contributed to help vulnerable people in the society to other projects. The other research designs were excluded by the fact that the scenario required exploration but not coming up with a specific answer.

4. Sampling methods

             They are classified as either non probability or probability. In a probability case, each item of the population has a non-zero probability of being selected. It involves random sampling, stratified sampling, and systematic sampling. Non probability sampling includes convenience sampling, judgment sampling, snowball sampling and quota sampling. The research based on the recent controversies in Ireland took a stratified sampling. In this form, a subset of population is selected who are believed to have at least one characteristic in common. The research was carried out in specific areas where people with similar characteristics are expected to disclose certain information. For instance, in the labor party national conference held at Killarney, CRC senior management were ordered to disclose their sources of finance and money obtained through donations. They were also to give an account of how they have spent that money. Other alternatives were excluded as the scenario involved a specific group but not the whole population.

5. Instruments used in the research

             An instrument refers to a generic term used by researchers for a measurement device that may be in form of a test, survey, questionnaire, interview, a set of guidelines for observation, or a research tool (Voss 2012: pp.195-219). In the Ireland scenario of salaries top-ups controversies, some different research instruments have been put into consideration. During the background research, questionnaires and interview were applied when obtaining people’s opinions concerning the recent issue. An interview was also carried out when CRC senior management was requested to give an account of how they have spent donated money.

6. Proposed techniques in data analysis

             Data analysis refers to a process of cleaning, inspecting, transforming, and data modeling. This is carried out with an aim of discovering useful information, coming up with conclusions, and supporting the process of decision making (Gorski 2009: p.759). It is a multiple approaches and facets, encompassing different techniques under a variety of names. Data analysis is done using two major techniques namely univariate and multivariate analysis. Multivariate analysis is the proposed technique for the research project. This technique gives a wider variety of opinions as it involves multiple measurements. Univariate is excluded on the bases that it is focused on a single variable and the research involves different variables.

7. Estimated budget and timeline for the research

             Every research project needs to be economical and timely. The above research is estimated to take at least 3-4months. This will facilitate quick actions being taken to address the issues surrounding the charity sector before it collapses. The project will be more economical considering the existing financial issues in the countries. Considering all matters at hand, the project has an estimated budget of €1.2 million.

In conclusion, the recent controversies in Ireland need to be addressed urgently before the whole charity sector collapses. Research has revealed that majority of the Irish citizens are unwilling to continue supporting the sector. The move to top-up executives’ salaries has made people to lose hope with the sector. Many organizations such as CRC have taken the advantage of the issue to divert vulnerable money to capital projects. A global humanitarian assistance report of July 2010 ranked the country as the fourth most generous in per citizen donations. To maintain this, the government needs to take substantive actions to solve the problem.


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