Irish charity Goal to shut its US offices

The group says the operation had not become self-sustaining

Irish charity Goal to shut its US offices

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The Irish NGO charity Goal has confirmed its US offices are to close.

It set up operations in the country two years ago, in a move which hoped to widen its reach.

But a spokesman tells Newstalk.com that while this was given a two-year window, the decision has been made to close.

In a statement, Goal says: "Almost two years ago, the Goal agreed that we needed to ramp up both the scale and impact of our work worldwide. We took this decision in the context of an increasing number of emerging global crises, and the complexity of the environments that we were operating in.

"That was the intention behind our investment in Goal USA, which was launched with the express focus of strengthening and scaling up Goal's work globally, as well as pursuing innovative ways to improve responses to emerging threats, such as more frequent and severe droughts.

"We knew then that this innovation would have to become self-sustaining within a number of years and we set a deadline of December 31st, 2016 for this.

"It is clear now, in light of developments in the funding environment, that this deadline will not be met.

"We therefore took the regrettable decision to close the unit at this time."

The news comes just a day after its CEO Barry Andrews stepped down.

The resignation and closure comes as the charity faces a US inquiry into its operations in Syria. It has been accused of bribery on the Turkey-Syria border.

In August, the Department of Foreign Affairs withheld around €3m in funding from the Irish NGO on foot of a US government investigation into its Syrian aid programme.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is conducting the probe into cross-border aid programs.

Yesterday, Mr Andrews said: "It has become clear to me that Goal requires a fresh start in terms of leadership. To that end, I informed Goal's board of directors last August of my intention to step down as CEO as soon as a suitable replacement could be identified."

Mr Andrews says he has agreed to continue as interim CEO, while a new appointment will be announced "in the next few days".

The group has offices in Ireland, the UK, the US and India.