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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Former AGs to lock horns in Kerins' case against PAC

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

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Ex-Rehab boss Angela Kerins
Ex-Rehab boss Angela Kerins

THE legal battle between the Dail's spending watchdog and ex-Rehab boss Angela Kerins will be fought out by two former Attorneys General.

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has retained Senior Counsel Paul Gallagher to defend it in the case, the Irish Independent had learned.

Mr Gallagher, who served as the Government's legal adviser between 2007 and 2011, will be pitted against John Rogers SC, who held the role from 1984 to 1987, and is representing Ms Kerins.

Mr Gallagher secured the job after a "mini tender" by the Oireachtas.

The committee denies claims made by Ms Kerins that certain members were biased against her and guilty of misfeasance of office and acting outside of their remit.

Ms Kerins is seeking damages, claiming she lost her €240,000 a year job and spent 10 days in hospital after being questioned by the committee last February.

Mr Rogers has already alleged Ms Kerins was subjected to "vicious" and "personal attacks" by some members of the PAC, after which she suffered "a collapse in health".

Claims

The committee denies the claims and says it was entitled to pursue the line of questioning it did, which included a focus on Ms Kerins' salary, pension and bonuses.

PAC members were informed of Mr Gallagher's appointment last night. He will be assisted by Catherine Donnelly BL, who specialises in constitutional and European law.

In the normal course of events the committee would have been expected to file a defence within three weeks of Ms Kerins' claim.

However, due to the courts going on holidays an extension of time has been agreed by both parties and the PAC now has until October 21 to file its statement of opposition.

Last week Mr Justice John Hedigan granted Ms Kerins leave to bring judicial review proceedings, saying issues raised by Mr Rogers were "of profound significance".

Ms Kerins is seeking an injunction restraining the committee from publishing any report which contains findings in relation to her and an order expunging the record of committee hearings where comments were made about her.

Irish Independent

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