independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Former FG Minister: Rehab was always close to Enda Kenny’s party

Ivan Yates wades into scratch card row by claiming charity ‘sort of had friends’ in the party

A FORMER Fine Gael minister says Rehab was always regarded as being close to Enda Kenny’s party.

Ivan Yates, now a presenter on Newstalk, compared the relationship between Rehab and Fine Gael to that between Bertie Ahern and the Central Remedial Clinic.

Based upon Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery being a former chief executive of the charity, Mr Yates said it was perceived that "Rehab sort of had friends in Fine Gael".

It comes as Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins should reveal her salary.

“I would be absolutely on the record, not just to her, but to other people involved in the charity sector that they should disclose their salaries and their salaries should not be excessive,” she said on Newstalk this morning.

When approached for comment today at the Rehab Group's head office in Sandymount, a spokesperson for the group said Ms Kerins was not in the building and was not available to speak to the Herald.

The charity is under fire after Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed less than €10,000 profit was generated from €4m of sales of Rehab Lotteries instant-win scratch cards.

The Taoiseach said he was “surprised” at revelations that less than €10,000 profit was generated from €4m of sales of Rehab Lotteries instant-win scratch cards.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said in the Dáil last night that an audit of Rehab Lotteries carried out by his department showed its gross lottery sales in 2010 of almost €7.2 million yielded a net profit of €558,000 or 8 per cent. However Rehab rejected Mr Shatter’s remarks, saying he had abused his position and called on the minister to withdraw his “outrageous” comments”.

Speaking on the revelations by the Justice Minister Mr Kenny said today: “I’m surprised to hear the numbers but clearly we’ve set out a position to deal with all of the charities in a very transparent way, and Minister Shatter chose to give some details in the Dáil last night, but obviously there are court proceedings involved in this particular case,” he said,

Rehab has been locked in a legal battle with the State over the ending of the Charitable Lotteries Fund, claiming it will do irreparable damage to the organisation and affect services to people with disabilities. But in response to those claims, the High Court previously heard that some charities were running inefficient or "zombie" lotteries.

The Taoiseach added that the appointment of a Charities Regulator would be a step towards regulation of the sector. “I believe that with the appointment of the Regulator and the analysis that is now going on and the investigation that is now going on into all of this, that you will have the charities in a much strong and credible position in that people will feel very happy with the charities they choose to support, once their audited accounts are published and once they have the endorsement of the Regulator”.

It is expected that the head of Rehab, Angela Kerins, who has refused to reveal her salary will be called before the Oireachtas committee, and the Taoiseach confirmed that all charities may be asked to appear at PAC.

“The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has made it perfectly clear that all of the charities are now going to be analysed and all of them will be called before the PAC. They must all be treated in the same fashion – fully transparent, fully accountable, fully answerable to the public where public money is involved,” he said.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton also said Ms Kerins should reveal her salary.

“I think the salaries should be disclosed,” she said.

“I think she should.”

Ms Kerins has been the subject of media reports about her salary as head of the not-for-profit group.

Ms Kerins recently declined to disclose her salary in an RTE interview, despite being asked a number of times how much she earns.

Ms Kerins said the Rehab Group is not the same as other charities as over 60 per cent of its activities are in the commercial sector with 40 per cent in the not-for-profit area.

Figures from 2012 show Ms Kerins on a salary of €234,000.

When she was asked on RTE about her salary, she said she had declared her salary on a number of occasions already.

 

Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand

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