Charities dismiss concerns over cancer funding

Paddy Walsh

Reporter:

Paddy Walsh

Up to two-thirds of the money raised at the Relay for Life funding event, staged in Letterkenny in May will be directed to cancer services in the county, the chairman of the organising committee insisted yesterday.

Up to two-thirds of the money raised at the Relay for Life funding event, staged in Letterkenny in May will be directed to cancer services in the county, the chairman of the organising committee insisted yesterday.

Responding to concerns that only a small fraction of the 346,000 euro raised would be spent here, Robert O’Connor said that around 200,000 euro of the money generated was already earmarked for the new Daffodil Centre at Letterkenny General Hospital which will be staffed by a specialist cancer nurse and a team of trained volunteers to provide support and advice to those with cancer worries.

“There are only seven other hospitals throughout the country with such a facility so this is obviously a great boost for the county,” the Relay for Life chairman maintained.

Earlier this week, it had been claimed locally that as little as 7,000 euro of the total of 346,759 euro raised as a result of the event last May for the Irish Cancer Society would find its way back into Donegal. One cancer survivor contacted the ‘Democrat’ group to outline concerns that the Dublin based Cancer Society had not consulted local groups on where or how the money raised at Relay for Life would be spent.

“I feel the money raised through the Relay for Life Donegal should stay in this county. It should be used for the benefit of past, present and future cancer patients here,” the survivor told Tuesday’s Donegal People’s Press/Democrat.

But the concerns were allayed by Mr. O’Connor who confirmed that two-thirds of the money raised at the event, which prompted a “phenomenal response” from the public in the county, would be spent in Donegal with the remainder geared towards vital research into cancer.

“I can understand the concerns raised but we were quite happy to get assurances from the Irish Cancer Society that at least 240,000 euro would go directly to services in Donegal.”

Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, the Irish Cancer Society also confirmed that the 350,000 euro raised at the Relay for Life event would be “spent directly on cancer patients and services in Donegal and in investment in cancer research.”

Commented John McCormack, C.E.O. of the Society: “We are very happy to tell people in Donegal about how their extraordinary generosity is making a difference to cancer patients and their families in Donegal as well as to the fight against cancer through investment in cancer research”, he said.

Pointing out that the Irish Cancer Society was not a state-funded organisation, he said over 95% of its income came entirely from fund-raising activities including Relay for Life.

The C.E.O. said that as well as the services delivered directly to cancer patients and their families in Donegal, the Society was also working to raise awareness of cancer, to train volunteers in health promotion and to highlight cancer prevention.

“We know that the Relay event means that more people in Donegal now know about our services and we expect demand for them to increase. Thanks to the generosity of the Donegal community, through Relay, we will be able to grow our support to those who need it”, he said.

Another Donegal Relay for Life event is planned for next year running on May 25th and 26th.