Committee postpones ruling on whether ex-Rehab chiefs must appear before PAC
Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30
A decision on whether two former Rehab chief executives can be compelled to give evidence before the Dail's spending watchdog is unlikely to be made until after the summer, as a high-powered committee postponed a decision on the issue.
The Dail's Committee on Procedure and Privilege (CPP) had been expected to rule last night on an application from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for legal powers to force Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery to give evidence.
However, the CPP asked for more information before it makes a decision on the request.
The delay is a major setback for the PAC's investigation of the disability body – and it is now likely that no decision will be taken until after the Dail returns from its summer recess.
The PAC has been seeking powers to compel witnesses for several months, and had already made a detailed legal submission to the CPP.
The CPP, which is chaired by Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, also delayed a decision on a separate application seeking to compel former SIPTU official Matt Merrigan to give evidence about his role in setting up a multi-million euro "slush fund" account to fund foreign trips.
Two letters seeking further information about both compellability applications were delivered to the PAC last night.
"A decision on whether to grant the request requires detailed consideration of a number of factors, including the background to the request," the letter in relation to the Rehab application said.
The PAC has a role in the oversight of bodies which are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General – and the letter noted that Rehab was not a body audited by the C&AG.
However, PAC chairman John McGuinness has said in recent days that the future work of the committee would be hampered if the CPP was to refuse it compellability powers.
Although Rehab receives over €80m a year in government funding, it is a private group of companies and is not subject to audit by the C&AG.
However, a number of bodies not audited by the C&AG have agreed to appear before the committee in the past after being invited to do so.
Both Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery have failed to appear before the committee, despite a number of requests.
They have accused the PAC of "a gross abuse" of its position and of knowingly acting outside its remit.