BY JACKIE KEOGH
THE founder of Ireland’s first air ambulance, Baltimore’s John Kearney, has denied as false a report that said he was a board member of the charity while he was declared bankrupt.
In accordance with the Charities Act 2009, anyone who has been declared bankrupt cannot be a director of a charitable organisation.
John stepped down as a director of Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) on January 1st according to ICRR chairman Fergal Conlon, who said this was minuted at their December 2018 meeting and Mr Kearney was made bankrupt last July.
It was reported this week that the Companies Registration Office was only notified of this at the end of September but John said the move was effective from January 1st.
John told The Southern Star he was ‘devastated at the thought that such negative publicity could have repercussions for the life-saving charity that I helped to establish.’
He said: ‘I have done nothing wrong and I feel it is unfair to me, personally, and my family. In life, you are judged on what you do, and I established this charity in good faith, as well as my involvement in various diving and sea search and rescue missions.
‘But, like a lot of other people, I got into financial difficulties during the 2008 property crash. Since then I have been trying to resolve matters, and it was only in July of this year that I filed for bankruptcy.
‘I can only hope that people who know me and have had to rely on this life-saving service will continue to support it because it deserves to succeed.’
John founded ICRR in 2008 and since then the organisation developed a network of more than 250 land-based volunteer doctors and 10 rapid response vehicles across the country.
Its helicopter emergency medical service got off the ground this past July and since then has been tasked with 150 life-saving missions.
The chairman of ICRR said: ‘It is clear that as a result of John Kearney’s efforts, thousands of families all over Ireland have received medical interventions that may have saved lives, or reduced the disabling impact of a major trauma. Without John’s vision these would not have happened.’
He said the charity’s financial management structures are ‘fully accountable for the funding it receives and spends.’
He also pointed out that John has never received any personal gain for any voluntary work done for ICCR for the last 11 years.
The air ambulance is an expensive service to run and ICRR will need to raise €500,000 to keep it operational between now and the end of the year.
Mr Conlon said: ‘ICRR will need the continued help of the public in its fundraising. This is a service for the citizens of this country and the support of the public is fundamental to its future.’