'PAC are entitled to query Rehab wages'
Published 05/10/2016 | 02:30
The Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was entitled to ask about salaries paid by the Rehab group, including former CEO Angela Kerins, because various group companies receive some €80m annually in public funds, the High Court heard.
While Ms Kerins sought to distinguish between payments made by State bodies "to" Rehab and expenditure "by" Rehab, there was no such distinction, Paul Gallagher SC, for PAC, argued yesterday.
The Rehab Group charged its various companies for services and its expenditure was therefore open to scrutiny by the Committee.
Ms Kerins was in court yesterday for the resumption of her challenge over hearings of the PAC concerning public payments to the charity.
She claims the conduct of two hearings, on February 27 and April 10, 2014, amounted to an unlawful "witchhunt" against her outside PAC's jurisdiction.
She wants damages on grounds including alleged personal injury, loss of reputation, and loss of career.
She was so overwhelmed after the February 27 hearing she attempted to take her life on March 14 and was unable to attend the April 10 hearing, it is claimed.
The three-judge court has to first decide if PAC had jurisdiction to conduct the hearings as it did.
Continuing his arguments, Mr Gallagher said the PAC was entitled to examine how sums were spent by publicly funded bodies even if the HSE was satisfied with the services provided.
Rehab is among various non-profit bodies that have service-level agreements with the HSE for provision of 80pc of disability services costing €1.2bn annually, he said.
Should Ms Kerins' win this case, the consequences for free speech by members of the Oireachtas were "far-reaching", he said. Ms Kerins was also not compelled to attend PAC and had gone voluntarily, Mr Gallagher said.
The hearing is listed to run until Friday.