Recent Developments and Future Directions
Edited by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Kerry O’Halloran
Chapter 3: Ireland: Pemsel Plus
Oonagh B. Breen INTRODUCTION – THE DRIVERS OF CHARITABLE CHANGE While the essential characteristics of charitable purposes do not change, what will satisfy those purposes changes with society . . . What is charitable is to be determined in accordance with contemporary community values. A contemporary activity may be charitable now, though it would not have been charitable a century ago, or less . . . Rules established a century ago relating to what is charitable need to be revisited in this light.1 The introduction of a new charity statute affords a state an opportunity to revise its policy approach on charities and in so doing to redraw the boundaries between the state, the market and the nonprofit sector. At its core, the power to determine what constitutes a charitable purpose is – and always has been – a political one. As history reveals, it matters not that definitional classification is not always to the fore of political intent or deliberation. The Statute of Charitable Uses 1601, although primarily intended as an accountability tool to ensure that charitable assets were applied to charitable ends, is today best and perhaps only remembered for its Preamble setting out the parameters of 17th-century charity.2 It is somewhat less surprising then that history is once more repeating itself: whereas the political motivation for new charity legislation in Ireland springs primarily from concerns relating to transparency and accountability, the focus of popular, political (and most likely future legal) debate rests on the scope of the definition of charity. In Ireland, the need for charitable...
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