Oxfam Ireland pledges to play 'leadership role' in international charity's reform efforts

The British branch of the charity has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by staff in Haiti

Oxfam Ireland pledges to play 'leadership role' in international charity's reform efforts

Picture by: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Oxfam Ireland has said it will play a 'leadership role' as the international charity works to introduce reforms to "root out any form of abuse".

The British branch of Oxfam has been rocked by allegations that some of the charity's aid workers used prostitutes in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

No staff employed by Oxfam Ireland were involved in the case, the Irish branch has confirmed.

Several senior officials with the international charity have resigned in the wake of the controversy, including the deputy chief executive of Oxfam Great Britain.

An 'urgent and independent' review of Oxfam's culture and practices has been announced, and will be lead by prominent women's rights experts.

The charity is also introducing a number of immediate measures - including creating a new global database of accredited referees to combat 'unreliable' references by past or current staff, and extra resources for the charity's safeguarding processes.

It also plans to publish a 2011 internal review into the Haiti allegations, but notes it is first taking steps to prevent witnesses being identified.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said the international organisation's review shows their commitment 'to enforce a zero-tolerance approach' to sexual misconduct.

He said: "I am committed to playing a leadership role in facilitating this comprehensive action plan to root out any form of abuse. At home and overseas, we will not stand for any kind of harassment of staff, partners, volunteers or those we serve and we are doubling the number of people who work on safeguarding to make sure we are living up to our responsibility to protect them.

"I feel great responsibility in the trust our supporters across the island of Ireland put in us and am dedicated to rebuilding any trust lost."

Mr Clarken added: "This review marks the beginning of change for Oxfam as an international organisation – Oxfam Ireland is 100% committed to playing our part and to working with others in government and across the sector to implement urgent reforms that enable us to do more and do better for the world’s poorest."

Meanwhile, the British international development secretary said Oxfam had agreed to withdraw from bidding for any new UK government funding until government officials are satisfied the charity "can meet the high standards we expect of our partners".

Penny Mordaunt suggested Oxfam had "a long way to go before they can regain the trust of the British public".