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Charity Commission to boost public confidence

By Lesley-Anne Henry

A new commission to monitor the activities of Ulster charities is due to be set up by the Assembly.

Politicians were expected to introduce legislation today to create the new post, aimed at increasing public confidence in charities.

The commissioner will monitor the financial and other activities of those claiming charity status.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said a charity commission would reassure people that donations to charities would be properly regulated.

She said the intention was to help charities benefit from charitable status: "We are not seeking to place undue burden on them, undue stress," she said on BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence.

"We are trying to ensure just that good regulation is in place, to verify confidence in churches and right across communities."

Denise McCann, of the NI Council for Voluntary Action, said the post was something they campaigned to have for a long time.

She said in Northern Ireland it was very easy to set up a bogus charity, but there is a very strong element of trust in our charities.

"A lot of charities are very good at being transparent, at telling their donors how much money they have raised and what they have done with the money raised.

"The majority of charities do act very well and run their organisation above board but currently in Northern Ireland, it could be potentially easy for you set up a bogus charity," she said.

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