Background to the Code

The Code was first developed between 2010 and June 2012 by a group of individuals drawn from a range of national organisations. They came together under the shared vision of creating the resource that was the Governance Code.

Since its inception, this group has worked under the banner of ‘The Governance Code Working Group’ (GCWG) to develop the Code and to ensure its continuing relevance to the sector and the wider Irish society. The GCWG consisted of representatives from eight national organisations and one private sector governance consultancy – all of whom worked on the Code on a voluntary basis. The members had a wide base of contacts across the range of the Community, Voluntary and Charities (CVC) sector.

The GCWG held meetings regularly to oversee the adoption of the Code by the CVC sector and to address any issues including communications issues, promotional matters, technical matters for interpretation, and engagement with stakeholders. It engaged with the CVC sector and the public and business spheres. The GCWG had sub-committees on communications, technical and resourcing matters.

The organisations from which the members were drawn also provide funding for necessary costs which were kept to a minimum.

Governance Code Working Group

The membership of the GCWG at October 2016 is set out below.

Organisation Member Chair
Boardmatch Ireland Eva Gurn  
Business in the Community Shane Mulchrone  
Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups Diarmaid  Ó Corrbuí Chairperson 2013-16
Clann Credo Senan Turnbull  
Disability Federation of Ireland Dermot O'Donnell  
ICTR Sheila Nordon  
Volunteer Ireland Nina Arwitz Chairperson 2016-19
The Wheel Deidre Garvey Chairperson 2010-13
Good Governance Solutions Alan McDonnell  Acting Chairperson 2016
Former members of the GCWG

• Boardmatch – Chris White and Fidelma Keogh

• Business in the Community – Ann Howgego

• Carmichael Centre – Derek O’Reilly

• Clann Credo – Paul O’Sullivan

• Volunteer Ireland – Yvonne Mc Kenna

• CGAI – Alan McDonnell and Tom Quinn

The GCWG was not funded by any external sources* and did not have staff. It established internal systems to ensure effective communications and organisational coherence and responded effectively to communications via e-mail in so far as was possible.

* The GCWC would like to acknowledge funding from the Department of the Environment and Community in 2012 which assisted with the launch of the Code. Their gratitude also extends to Pobal who funded the appointment of a Development Officer in 2015. This funding also enabled the delivery of information sessions during 2015.

The first edition, published in March 2012

In 2009 Dóchas and the Corporate Governance Association of Ireland (CGAI) published a ‘Code of Good Governance for Development NGOs’ (NGO stands for non-governmental organisation.) The Wheel believed that a similar Code could be very useful for the broader Community, Voluntary and Charitable (CVC) Sector in Ireland. The CGAI agreed. The Wheel then consulted with its members and members of the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups about their interest in adapting the ‘Dóchas /CGAI Code’ for the broader CVC Sector. After a positive response, 11 organisations came together to form a Working Group to develop a Governance Code for the CVC Sector. This group met nearly every month from the end of 2009 through to publication of the first edition of the Code in March 2012. The work was not funded by any particular source, and the group members gave their time and expertise voluntarily believing that the Code would improve the impact of the work done by community, voluntary and charitable organisations.

In developing the Governance Code, the Working Group established a unique flexible approach, which was necessary for a sector as diverse as the CVC sector in Ireland. This led to a different approach to the Dóchas /CGAI Code and this early developmental work was also informed by the study of:

  • materials produced in the UK from a review of the Governance Code for the Voluntary Sector. The UK Code (which was very similar to the Dóchas/CGAI Code for Development NGOs here in Ireland) had been used in the UK for over five years;
  • the Report on Proportionate Governance for Voluntary Groups in the UK, produced by Mike Hudson, Director of Compass Partnership (; and
  • materials produced by Sheila Cahill and The Carmichael Centre’s training and support service on standards of governance for small community, voluntary and charitable organisations.

Late in 2010, the Working Group actively engaged with the following stakeholders to get their feedback:

  • community, voluntary and charitable groups of all sizes;
  • private funders;
  • regulators;
  • statutory authorities and funders; and
  • other stakeholders.

The Working Group then developed and published a draft of the Code for public consultation. The consultation phase began in May 2011 and finished at the end of July 2011. It involved:

• information and consultation events around the country;

• webinars;

• surveys; and

• written feedback

Finalising the first edition of the Code 

During the second half of 2011, the Working Group took on board the feedback from the public consultation and finalised the Governance Code. The Code was published in February 2012, along with a range of checklists and resources to help organisations comply with it.

The Working Group extends its thanks to all stakeholders for their input on the first Code. In particular, it thanks Sheila Cahill for her work on producing the early model, text for the Code and the recommended practices. The Working Group also thanks the groups and individuals (listed below) in each of their organisations who contributed to the Code’s initial development.

The CGAI team involved in the initial development of this Code were:

Alan McDonnell (Chairman)

• Jim Corbett

• Dermod Dwyer

• Conall Lavery

• Liam Marnane

• Tom Quinn.

Before the first edition was published on the website, The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) kindly edited the Governance Code using plain English guidelines. This was to help users better understand and use it.  

The Wheel supported and managed the project, including the development and maintenance of the initial governance code website. It provided the administrative home for the Code and the Working Group. (The Wheel continued to support and manage this until handover of the Code to Sport Ireland.)

The public consultation phase of the Code’s development was made possible in 2011 due to Femi Atoyebi’s work. Femi volunteered with the Wheel for five months to support the Working Group and the project over this crucial period. The CEO of the Wheel, Deirdre Garvey, chaired the Working Group from inception to the publication of the Code in 2012.

The second edition, 2016:

After the Code was published and its official public launch in July 2012, the Working Group restructured itself for post-publication and dissemination work. It was driven by eight non-profit groups over the period 2012 – early 2015. It continued to meet about five or six times a year and set objectives for the three year period 2012 – 2015. It created subgroups to progress its work. The CEO of Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí became the Working Group’s Chair in 2012 and held this role until the end of 2015.


A commitment to review the contents and use of the Governance Code after three years was made. Consequently, the original full Working Group came together in early 2015 to scope out and undertake this review. Chief Executive of ICTR, Sheila Nordon Chaired the Review Subgroup and its members were:

• Ann Howgego (Business in the Community),

• Nina Arwitz (Volunteer Ireland),

• Fidelma Keogh (Boardmatch Ireland),

• Alan McDonnell (Good Governance Solutions), and

• Philip Smith and Katherine Hayes (Arthur Cox Solicitors).

As part of the review, the Working Group oversaw a public consultation with relevant stakeholders. This consultation was conducted by the Review Subgroup. The Working Group worked methodically through the Review Subgroup’s findings and recommendations from July – October inclusive. The Working Group acknowledges the valuable work done by members of the Review Subgroup, particularly Katherine Hayes from Arthur Cox Solicitors.

As part of this review and before the second edition of the Code was published, the Working Group also completed a strategic review of its own oversight of the project. This resulted in a new strategy and set of objectives with goals which the Working Group adopted in early 2016. 


The second edition of the Code, made up of the following suite of documents, was first published on the original governance code website in April 2016:

  1. The Code document: Introduction; principles; ‘how to use’ section; ‘public statement of compliance’ sheet; recommended practices – for Type A, Type B and Type C organisations. It also includes a glossary.
  2. Checklists for each of Type A / Type B / Type C organisations.
  3. Template for collating evidence and for yearly self-assessment of an organisation’s ongoing improvements towards compliance.
  4.  Stewardship Guidelines for stakeholders such as funders and members.
  5.  Advice sheets on: 1) the role of ‘company secretary’; 2) terms of office for board members.

Some of these documents have been recently updated and are now available within the Governance Code Resources Section of the Sport Ireland website, with additional guidance documents being added in due course.

The Organisations Involved

Sport Ireland acknowledges the work of the following organisations in the development, maintaining, advancement and administering the CVC Code since its introduction in 2012 to its handover to Sport Ireland as a Governance Code for Sport in June 2019.

  • Boardmatch Ireland
  • Business in the Community Ireland
  • Carmichael Centre
  • Charities Institute of Ireland
  • The Social Investment Fund
  • Disability Federation of Ireland
  • Good Governance Solutions
  • Volunteer Ireland
  • The Wheel
  • Arthur Cox
  • The Corporate Governance Association of Ireland
  • Sheila Cahill Consulting