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Monday 27 February 2017

Former Rehab CEO Angela Kerins attempts to gag charity from discussing salary and pension package to PAC

Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent

Former Rehab CEO Angela Kerins last night gagged the charity from discussing her salary and pension package to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it emerged today.

A letter from her solicitors to Rehab strictly prohibited the charity from discussing her pay package and that she was withdrawing "any waiver" she previously gave.

At the committee this morning, Declan Doyle of the Rehab remuneration committee read the letter from Ms Kerins' solicitors into the record.

"No permission is given to discuss her details in anyway," he read from the letter.

Also, her predecessor, Frank Flannery, also said he was not prepared to allow personal information about his pay and pension as Rehab CEO from being discussed, Mr Doyle told the committee.

It also emerged that Mr Flannery's solicitor sent an email to the PAC demanding to know "who leaked" a letter from his client yesterday evening.

The confidential letter, which set out Mr Flannery's reasons for not appearing before the committee today, was referred to in media outlets within hours of it arriving.

Mr Flannery's solicitor, Robert Dore said this could "have only have happened because it was leaked" to the media.

He asked for the identity of the leak to be made known.

PAC Chairman, John McGuinness, dismissed Mr Dore's email saying it "should be placed in the nonsense file."

The chairman of Rehab Brian Kerr has said the reputation of Rehab has been "seriously damaged" by the recent controversies.

Addressing this morning's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Brian Kerr admitted that the response of the Rehab board to the controversies had "been inadequate".

He said Rehab, which got €83 million in State funding last year, is now initiating a serious process of transformation and change, but admitted "this will not be achieved overnight."

Explaining why he and the other financial officers of Rehab did not appear at the last meeting, Mr Kerr said a decision was taken that the then CEO Angela Kerins was best placed to address the committee.

He said as a result of "miscommunication and misunderstanding within Rehab" that a request from the PAC for them to appear was not acted upon. "We accept this was an error on our part," he said.

Addressing controversies around failures in corporate Governance at Rehab, Mr Kerr said the charity had "been remiss in renewing our board memberships," but said this will now be addressed.

The charity has said it has engaged consultant Dr Eddie Molloy to help oversee its transition process.  Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins will be compelled by law, if necessary, to come before the Public Accounts Committee, the chairman John McGuinness has insisted.

Both Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins yesterday wrote to the PAC outlining their reasons for not attending this morning's hearing at which senior Rehab bosses will definitely be attending.

In his letter, Mr Flannery said he stood down as Rehab chief executive in 2006 and this meant he could not answer many of their questions.

Ms Kerins said her decision not to attend was based on medical advice due to illness.

PAC Chairman John McGuinness earlier conceded that answering questions to the PAC "is not a pleasant experience" but he said he doesn't accept that the questioning has taken a toll on her health.

He told RTE's Morning Ireland he believes the PAC has been "very fair" to witnesses.

But he added: "we did not get the frank and full disclosure [in the first meeting]." Mr Flannery's decision is a blow to Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he is a long-time strategic adviser to Fine Gael and only quit on March 10 last as campaign director for the forthcoming European Parliament and local council elections.

As late as yesterday afternoon, the Taoiseach was insistent that both Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins should attend the PAC, but last night Mr Kenny said little about the latest development.

"The Taoiseach has expressed his view on this matter on a number of occasions," a spokesman said.

The PAC met last night to consider the letters of refusal and after Mr  McGuinness said the members rejected all the main assertions made by Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins.

"We have a job to do to find out what they were paying out from the €83 million they have been receiving from the taxpayer.

"Both these people have a long association with Rehab and they're part of the job we have to do," Mr McGuinness, a Fianna Fail TD, told the Irish Independent.

"If necessary we will use our powers of compellability to ensure they appear before the committee.

Clerk of the committee Ted McEnery last night wrote to Mr Flannery describing his reasons for not attending today's hearing as "nothing short of contemptible".

He also wrote to Ms Kerins to say the committee looked forward to hearing her evidence, should it be necessary, after she recovers from her recent illness.

The committee also heard that Frank Flannery earned €409,744 in fees from Rehab to lobby the Government between 2007 and last year.

His payments ranged from €40,000 in 2007 to €79,950 last year, figures given to the committee reveal. He resigned as CEO in 2006.

It previously emerged that €700,000 a year of State money given to Rehab went on lobbying and advocacy.

The committee also heard that seven senior managers at Rehab are paid between €104,000 and €174,000, in a bid by the charity to address questions from committee members.

Apart from former CEO Ms Kerins's last disclosed salary of €240,000, the charity's director of training is being paid €174,000.

The director of finance is being paid €152,667, the director of health is being paid €150,000, the director of fundraising and the director of communications are being paid €130,000.

Rehab's Director of Policy and Compliance is being paid €104,000.

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