THE Health Service Executive (HSE) received “regular reports” about the amount of salary top ups being paid to Central Remedial Clinic senior managers, it was claimed today.
A fresh statement from the embattled clinic, which provides services for thousands of children and adults with a disability, came after its former chairman Des Peelo revealed senior HSE directors were made fully aware at a face-to-face meeting four years that it would use its own charity funds to pay large top-ups to its managers.
It is now paying 1.1pc of its wage bill from charity donations and its fund raising arm has still €12m in reserve, despite the clinic imposing cuts in service.
The €3m loan given last year by the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic to fund pensions or retired staff has to support 70 former staff and must be paid back.
Earlier, Mr Peelo said he met with the HSE in 2009 and pointed out it could not break a contract with nine managers, including its chief executive Paul Kiely who was getting a €136,000 top-up in addition to his State salary of €106,900 until his recent retirement.
He said the HSE informed it that it could no longer fund the additional payments out of the annual allocation it gave to the CRC to run services for children and adults with a disability.
“We had to take on the obligation and we willingly did it,” he told the Today with Sean O’Rourke show on RTE radio.
“We would have been sued for God know’s what under employment legislation,” he added.
In a statement this afternoon the clinic said it was agreed in 2009 that these positions became available through retirement or vacancy, new staff would be engaged on salaries purely in line with the Department’s pay scales.”
In the meantime, the difference between the Department of Health pay scales and the contractually obligated salaries of these staff would be funded lottery proceeds received by its fund raising arm the Friends of the CRC.
“This has been the case since then with regular reports being sent to the HSE confirming the portion of salaries being paid through both sources.
“Funds donated via other sources, such as the Santa Bear Appeal, Comedy Night, Sale of Work, Golf Classic, donor fundraising events, sponsorships, flag days and sales of Christmas Cards, are not used to fund these salaries.
The charity arm now has funds of €12m in reserve which are earmarked for planned capital expenditure.”
The loan of €3m from the Friends of the CRC to the clinic’s pension scheme covering 70 former staff was in response to a requirement from the Irish Pension Board together with advice received from the CRC’s pension advisors and is expected to be repaid in full by 2017, it added.
“The board of the CRC will participate fully with the HSE and relevant Dail committees in their review of these matters. The members of the board do not receive any remuneration, expenses or payments of any kind,” said the statement.
HSE chief executive Tony O’Brien expressed shock when he was confronted with the annual accounts of the CRC’s fund raising arm, the Friends and Supports of the Central Remedial Clinic at a meeting of the Dail Committee on Public Accounts last year.
It showed it had a nest egg of €14m at the time when it was cutting back on services.
It later emerged this is the charity money being used to fund the generous salary top-ups and pension payments.
Mr Peelo who stepped down as chairman in 2010 after 28 years of involvement in the CRC .
The CRC gets around €19m a year from the HSE.
By Eilish O’Regan