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One in Four Head Colm O'Gorman Earns €80k a Year

Sunday Independent, 19 October 2003 by Liam Collins

THE director of One in Four, Colm O'Gorman, who threatened to close the victims-of-abuse organisation last week because of lack of funds, is on a salary of €80,000 a year.

Mr O'Gorman, who also employs a full-time personal assistant, courageously revealed himself as a victim of Wexford paedophile priest Fr Sean Fortune, before he established One in Four in Ireland in May 2002.

But last Thursday week he put the organisation's permanent staff on notice of redundancy after the Department of Health and Children declined to provide an extra €81,000 for its counselling programme. Mr O'Gorman maintains that the department agreed to this funding after discussions last March.

At a meeting in May, 2002, One in Four agreed funding with the Department of Health of €633,000, of which €208,000 was made available to the original organisation in Britain "to assist it in dealing with calls from Ireland".

Of the remaining funding, €302,000 was spent on salaries for its staff; €79,000 was spent on renting and refurbishing offices in Dublin's Holles Street; €5,000 was spent on recruitment and €8,000 on volunteers.

The remainder, an estimated €25,000, went onexpenses.

Last week, Colm O'Gorman called a press conference to announce that the organisation would be closing down. It now appears that One in Four will survive until further public funding is made available; a donation of €40,000 has been made by rock band U2 and its manager Paul McGuinness, and other donations were made by the public.

Mr O'Gorman defended the salaries of the five permanent staff of One in Four, saying that the organisation was "highly cost-effective" and "the salaries are clearly deserved and significantly lower than others in the sector".

He said the salaries he and his staff were paid were comparable to those of officials in the health boards and staff in Dublin's Rape Crisis Centre.

One in Four had an agreed staffing level of five, made up of Mr O'Gorman, the director; an office manager; a receptionist; a therapy co-ordinator; and an advocacy worker. Mr O'Gorman also has his own personal assistant.

He said yesterday that while a staffing level of five was agreed with the department, extra staff were employed and paid for from other funding. "The intention of this organisation is tobecome independent, in the long term," he maintained. At the moment, 85 per cent of One in Four's funding comes from the taxpayer.

When it was mooted that staff might have to work for free, one Department of Health official said, "We paid for five staff until the end of the year - why would anyone have to work for free?" The Department of Health and Children says it "fully supported" the organisation after a meeting between Minister Micheal Martin, Junior Minister Brian Lenihan, and Mr O'Gorman and two staff members last Thursday.

A spokesman for the department said there was "no question" of the department "not funding them", and Brian Lenihan will begin talks shortly on financial issues and a "service plan" that will secure further funding for the organisation.

The department is also concerned that One in Four wants to set up its own "counselling service" despite the fact that the Government has a fully professional and independent counselling service which has cost €17m since 1999.

Announcing his decision to shut the organisation last Monday, Colm O'Gorman alleged that he had been told through an intermediary that there was serious concern at a senior level about his criticisms of the Government regarding the resignation of Justice Mary Laffoy from the Laffoy Commission.

Mr O'Gorman met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's chief adviser Gerry Hickey, who assured him that this alleged phone call hadn't come from the Taoiseach's office. The Department of Health and Children has also denied any such call was made on its behalf.

The directors of One in Four are Colm O'Gorman and Paul Fyffe of The Cedars, Herbert Park, Dublin 4; Marie Collins of Firhouse, Dublin; Eileen Doyle, Inchicore, Dublin; Patrick Jackman of Wexford; and Dianne Murphy and Nora O'Riordan with addresses in London.