independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Former CRC chief Brian Conlan to be 'compelled' to give evidence to PAC

PICTURED AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE FIRST PERMANENT NEW BUILDINGS ON THE SITE OF THE MATER AND CHILDRENS HOSPITAL CAMPUS DEVELOPMENT INCLUDING A HOSTEL FOR OUT PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND A STATE OF THE ART CENTRE FOR NURSE EDUCATION YESTERDAY AT THE MATER HOSPITAL WAS FROM LEFT, DES LE MONT CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE MATER AND CHILDRENS UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS, SISTER HELENA O DONOGHUE CHAIRPERSON OF THE MATER CHILDRENS HOSPITAL DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LTD AND BRIAN CONLAN CEO OF THE MATER HOSPITAL..
PIC STEVE HUMPHREYS.
1ST SEPTEMBER 2006.
Brian Conlan

THE Dail's spending watchdog is to formally compel Brian Conlan, the former chief executive of the Central Remedial Clinic, to give evidence before it.

This morning the Public Accounts Committee resolved to use new powers to force Mr Conlan to appear.

The former CRC boss, who resigned earlier this week over the top-up controversy, where public donations were used to increase the salaries of senior staff, has refused to answer questions from committee members.

"There is no other option but to seek compellability to bring him in," said PAC chairman John McGuinness.

'We can compel him as I understand it."

Mr McGuinness criticised Mr Conlan for issuing statements to the media while refusing to appear before the committee.

"He is doing untold damage to the sector with this sort of megaphone diplomacy," said Mr McGuinness.

The move will now have to be approved by the a sub group of the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP), which has the power to grant compellability.

However, this committee has never met and has yet to consider a request from the PAC to compel former SIPTU official Matt Merrigan to appear. The committee is seeking to quiz Mr Merrigan over his involvement in a €4.4m HSE/SIPTU training "slush fund".

Mr McGuinness said it "simply isn't good enough" that the PAC be "stalled in its tracks by another committee of the house".

The clerk of the PAC, Ted McEnery, said the process had been held up as new compellability guidelines were being legally tested by the CPP. He said this process should be completed "just after Christmas" and that it was the only issue delaying the matter.

Earlier Independent TD Shane Ross said the PAC should move straight to compellability powers rather than again seeking Mr Conlan attend voluntarily.

"Really the PAC cannot be treated like that," he said, referring to Mr Conlan's refusal to cooperate.

"I think it would set a bad precedent."

Committee vice-chairman Kieran O'Donnell agreed the PAC had "no option but to compel the witness to attend."

He said the PAC could not tolerate a situation where Mr Conlan was issuing statements but was unwilling to be accountable to the committee.

Mr McGuinness said officials from the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive would appear before the committee next week to answer further questions on the CRC controversy, including the existence of a so-called "phantom" pension fund administered by the Mater Hospital on behalf of the CRC.

Five senior staff at the CRC are still in receipt of top-up payments.

Money raised by a charitable company had been used to top up the salaries of staff including its former chief executive.

Former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely was on a state salary of €106,900 prior to his retirement, but this was supplemented by the clinic with a further €136,000, resulting in an overall pay package of more than €240,000.

Shane Phelan

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