The animal shelter continued to seek donations after being stripped of its charitable status | Ireland

An exotic animal sanctuary has been warned by the regulator about seeking donations from the public more than a year after it was stripped of its charitable status.

The National Exotic Animal Sanctuary (NEAS) at Co Meath houses and cares for animals such as wallabies, peacocks, parrots, snakes, lizards, meerkats, llamas and emus.

Documents released under freedom of information legislation show the charities regulator removed NEAS from the list of registered charities on April 29, 2019, after Revenue withdrew its tax exemption to charities. charitable purposes on April 9. his accounts.

The sanctuary, run by Kevin Cunningham, was warned by the regulator as it continued to pose as a charity and ask donations until May 2020.

Cunningham said in a statement: “NEAS is currently defending legal proceedings for its removal from the Sanctuary House and pending the conclusion of these proceedings, no further comment can be made.

“All animals currently at the sanctuary are being fed and cared for with the sanctuary’s normal love and compassion. No further comment will be made at this time.”

Cunningham declined to say whether he knew the sanctuary was accepting donations for more than a year after it was delisted. He also declined to comment on the amount collected during this period. The association received €18,033 in donations in 12 months between 2015 and 2016 and €47,633 over the same period in 2017 and 2018.

Cunningham said the dispute would not harm animal welfare at the sanctuary


Complaints were filed against NEAS with the regulator between 2018 and 2019. The first, on August 13, 2018, said the sanctuary was subject to eviction proceedings in a circuit court in early 2017 by Yvonne Smalley, the landowner and former trustee of the charity. Smalley, who co-founded the sanctuary, resigned from the organization in November 2016. The complaint said it was wrong that NEAS raised funds for a new wallaby enclosure when it was in this “precarious situation. regarding the potential eviction.

Another complaint filed with the regulator on May 15, 2019 said the charity’s Facebook page and website still displayed a charity number and offered people the option to donate. . He added that the website stated that NEAS had benefited from tax exemptions for charities. A few days later, the complainant contacted the regulator to say that the charity was raising money at a sporting event. They wrote again in June 2019 and said the charity was still accepting donations.

In April 2020, after several engagements with the sanctuary, the regulator told those who had raised concerns that the Charities Act violations had been resolved as the sanctuary had taken down its website, deactivated its page of donations and removed references to a charity on its Facebook page. .

It is understood the sanctuary is still operating and eviction proceedings are ongoing.

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