Irish Red Cross

The Irish Red Cross Society was formally established by Nurse Elizabeth O'Herrin of Dublin City Hospital on 1 July 1939 under the terms of the Red Cross Act 1938. Its constitution is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949, their additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005 (the Geneva Conventions), to which Ireland is a party, Acts of the Oireachtas and relevant provisions of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The society has been supported by the Irish Department of Defence and it receives €739,000 p.a. from them. In addition to that, the Department of Defence gives €130,000 annually to the International Committee of the Red Cross.[1] In the past few years the organisation has gone through significant management and operational changes. In 2011 a new Secretary General was appointed together with a new senior management team.[2]

Headquarters in Dublin, the Republic of Ireland.

Formerly the Irish White Cross had worked in the Irish Free State in 1921–28.

The society is organised on a voluntary basis. In Ireland, its activities include mountain rescue, first aid education of the public, the provision of first aid and ambulance services at public events, as well as other community services including therapeutic hand care for the elderly and training of carers. Outside Ireland, the society provides relief and humanitarian services in response to natural disasters and in regions of conflict.

The headquarters of the Irish Red Cross is located at 16 Merrion Square North, Dublin 2. The society is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


The firstaid services section of the society is organised into regions, areas, branches and units for command and administration purposes.

There are four regions in the country each with a Regional Director of Units who is responsible for co-ordination of the units in their region through their Area Directors of Units.

There are 28 areas in the Irish Red Cross (The Red Cross in Northern Ireland is part of the British Red Cross). Areas are normally divided up to match county borders i.e. the Clare Red Cross area has the same geographical bounders as county Clare itself. In this way the Red Cross differs from other organisations like the Civil Defence which is divided according to local council areas. The only exception to this being with Red Cross Areas in Dublin, they are aligned to local council areas due to the population of the city and outlying areas, this meaning there are four Red Cross Areas in Dublin.

Each area is commanded and administered by an "Area Director of Units" shortened normally to "ADU". This person is appointed for a three-year term by the Central Council. The Person however is a Volunteer and receives no payment for his/her work as are all person involved in the uniformed section, the person will normally have been a volunteer for a number of years and risen through the ranks. The ADU will normally appoint a deputy director of units (DADU) and a number of assistant area directors (AADU) to assist him. The DADU is second in command of the area and may take responsibility for a particular duty (e.g. Ambulance cover on public duties). The AADU's will normally have charge over a particular section within the area (e.g. cadet members) or a particular responsibility (e.g. equipment and training)

The ADU is assisted by the Area Committee, whose members are elected from the branch committees in the area each year at an A.G.M.

Each Area will have a number of branches in it, the number varying according to area. The branch is run by a committee of its own members, also elected at an A.G.M. each year.

Each Branch has a number of units in it the number again varying according to the branch. The unit is the main training group within that area, there may for example normally be only one unit in a village or group of village depending on population, whereas a city may have a number of units due to the population. The Unit is commanded and administered by the "Unit Officer" a person appointed by the ADU. The appointment last for one year but the person may be re-appointed continually. The Unit Officer is assisted by a "Sub-Unit Officer" and by "Assistant Unit Officers" also appointed by the ADU. The unit is where all members of the IRC would training and also where public first aid courses would be run from. Depending on the size of the Branch there may be different units for different age groups.

Persons may join the Irish Red Cross from 5 years of age, there is no maximum age. The Age profiles are broken as follows:

Not all areas currently have units for the youngest age range as they area a new inclusion, within them very basic "First Aid" is taught, things such as how to call an ambulance to putting on a plaster, progressing to higher levels as the member grows older.


The Ranks in the IRC are in descending order:

All the Ranks (bar the novice member) are on navy epaulets, worn on the shoulders for the working uniform.


The Irish Red Cross has a fleet of both road and off-road ambulances in Ireland. It also has specialised Support vehicles, Command vehicles, mountain bikes, search dogs and a boat. The vehicles in the Area depending on locally need and decided upon by the ADU. These Fleets along with all IRC members provide a backup to the ambulance service in case of major emergency.

The IRC offers members of the public a number of courses. In particular Practical First Aid and Occupational First Aid, as well as skin camouflage and hand care. The Irish Red Cross is a provider of First Aid Certification in Republic of Ireland. As a PHECC training institute it also offers the Cardiac First Response (C.F.R.) course.

If a person is a member of the Red Cross they can go on to Complete other courses such as:

However a member while encouraged to do some of these courses need not and can help the society by other means, such as fundraising activities, relief work or other areas.

The Irish Red Cross provides ambulance and medical cover at a large amount of public events and functions the year round and across Ireland, including events such as concerts, motor sport events, equestrian events, rugby, soccer and GAA matches. While the events organizers are normally charged a fee, this money however does not go to the people on duty but rather to help fund the activities of the local branch.

The Irish Red Cross also provides relief services locally, nationally and internationally. Locally services range from "meals on wheels" to home visits and transport of the elderly, to nationally disaster relief such as in the wake of the flooding in Ireland in 2009. Internationally the IRC will collect donations for major relief works such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and will also send members abroad to assist with relief works.

Community Services

The Irish Red Cross provide a range of community services and activities. These include Therapeutic Hand Care Service, Skin camouflage service, Babysitting course, Helping You to Care Course, First Aid Training and an Entertainment Troupe Service.

Use of Red Cross insignia

Section 4 of the 1938 Act created the offence of using "for the purpose of trade or business or any other purpose whatsoever " a ".. heraldic emblem of the red cross on a white ground formed by reversing the Federal colours of Switzerland or any emblem closely resembling such heraldic emblem" without the express permission of the Minister for Defence.[4]


In 2009, some financial irregularities were revealed anonymously on an anonymous blog by a whistleblower, Noel Wardick, who was head of the international department. The Irish Red Cross sought court orders to obtain Mr Wardick's identity from UPC and Google, which were granted. Wardick was dismissed.[5] Wardick had revealed that €162,000 collected locally for the 2004 Asian tsunami had remained unspent in a bank account years after the event.

In 2010, an internal enquiry into Wardick's allegations found other such bank accounts, and proposals to overhaul the IRC's management were discussed in the Dáil on 15 December. Questions were answered by Tony Killeen, then the Minister of Defence.[6]

See also


  1. Department of Defence Annual Report 2013
  3. "National Services". Dublin 15 Branch Irish Red Cross. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  4. "Red Cross Act, 1938". 14 December 1938. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  5. Charlie Taylor (27 August 2010) "Red Cross blogger reveals identity" Irish Times
  6. "Dáil debate on the IRC". 15 December 2010
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