independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

A CRC mum cries on radio as she talks of 'disgust' at former boss Paul Kiely

Second mum Alicia Liebenberg (pictured with son Finn) describes Kiely's €742k pay-off as a 'slap in the face'

Alicia Liebenberg pictured with her son Finn (8) at their Coolock home last night.
Pic Colin O'Riordan
Alicia Liebenberg pictured with her son Finn (8) at their Coolock home last night. Pic Colin O'Riordan

A mother of a baby who uses the Central Remedial Clinic broke down in tears this morning as she spoke about her disgust and sadness at former CRC boss Paul Kiely.

Maria Nolan, mum to 17-month-old toddler Oisin, cried on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme (listen HERE) as she begged people to keep giving to the CRC as people like her son depend upon it.

In a moving interview, Ms Nolan cried as she told of her reaction to the news that half of the CRC’s charitable funds for last year went to the €740,000 pension pay-off for former CRC chief Paul Kiely.

Details surrounding Mr Kiely’s pay-off emerged yesterday during a hearing of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where members were told that funding for his pension pot, which was agreed by the then board of the CRC last summer, came from funds given to the CRC from the public.

The amount given to Mr Kiely amounted to half of the charitable funds for the CRC – and is the equivalent of 233,000 Santa Bears, the CRC’s annual Christmas appeal.

Speaking this morning, Ms Nolan cried and said she felt “disgusted and saddened but not just for yourself and your child, you feel afraid for front-line staff at the CRC. They’re so amazing.

“They work so hard. You go into the CRC every day and there is a smile on their faces.

“They’re amazing people who are so talented and gifted to work with children like Oisin and adults like Oisin.

“And you can just feel that they’re so ashamed themselves, hoping that they’re not implicated or that we are looking at them and judging them.

“If you ever go in the front door of the CRC, the receptionist is smiling at you. Everyone is so nice. It’s a second home from home and for him [Paul Kiely] to do that....”

Maria explained how her son Oisin goes to the CRC four times a week.

“He needs it for physiotheraphy and occupational therapy, eat, drink and swallowing clinic.

“And I also go to the parent and toddler group myself which is vital for me.

“With Oisin’s condition, I have felt something of an outsider in the community, so the CRC for me is a lifeline and a second home for me and Oisin,” she explained.

She told of how the CRC made contact with her when her son was discharged from Temple Street Children’s Hospital last August.

“The CRC have been amazing.

“Oisin was discharged at the end of August and literally, in his discharge process, I received my letters from the CRC welcoming me into their family more or less.

“All his appointments were set up immediately for his physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

“All his appointments were made. I didn’t have to ring, I didn’t have to follow up, I didn’t have to arrange anything.

“They were laid out immediately.

“We literally started the week after he was discharged.”

“His physiotherapy has started back and he will be doing his eating, swallowing and drinking clinic shortly.

She made a heartfelt appeal to the public to keep giving to the CRC, as such support as vital for children and adults like Oisin.

She said she understands why people might not feel like making a  donation to the CRC, but she begged them to think otherwise.

“I completely understand. Before I had Oisin I knew of the CRC but I didn’t know really what it did.

“I just beg people. I know money is scarce and people don’t have money to give to charities, but please don’t pass the bucket on the street.

“Do give. Just think of my son. Children like Oisin and adults like Oisin will be like this for the rest of their lives and will always need the CRC. Please don’t pass it [the bucket].

“Please don’t pass it. I beg of you.

“ You never know when you might need it yourself. I didn’t think when I gave birth to my baby that I would need the CRC. I highly highly need it, and I will always need it, so please don’t pass it,” she said.

Meanwhile, Alicia Liebenberg told The Herald that Kiely's pay-off was a 'slap in the face' and said "these people see it as an opportunity to line their own pockets".

Alicia is mum to son Finn (8) who has been visiting the CRC since he was just 10 weeks old.

"I was so angry," she said.

"I felt their pensions were being bankrolled by people's misfortunes.

“These people think the CRC is an opportunity to line their own pockets and climb a career ladder.”

Meanwhile, Public Account Committee chair John McGuinness backed up Ms Nolan’s radio appeal this morning, saying the CRC as it now stands is a different organisation since the scandal broke and that staff shouldn’t be the ones to feel ashamed.

“Remember the good work that they’re doing and the good people there. They are not the ones who should suffer. I appeal to people to continue to support Central Remedial Clinic,” he said.

“This is an unfolding story. We will bring back in the board, we will bring back in MR Kiel, because we want to be able to put this to the board. Mr Kiely has been found out. The PAC was misled by Mr Kiely. There are serious issues here.”

The Fianna Fail TD added that Mr Kiely must should have to pay back the money given to him by the organisations remunerations’ board.

“There are no doubts in our minds that he should repay it. It’s shameful and outrageous that the board would hand out that kind of money.

“In some cases there are clear conclusions you can reach.”

Irish Independent

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