EMBATTLED chiefs of the Rehab charity have claimed that they are the real victims as the controversy into its finances continues - blaming the government for the tiny profits on its scratch card lottery.
"I'd be very surprised if public opinion is not on our side," Rehab Lotteries board member John McGuire told the Examiner. "We're the injured party and we are the victims."
He insisted the profits were low because the government has imposed a prize limit of €20,000 per week, and the National Lottery dominated the sector.
The claim comes as it emerged that Rehab Lotteries received more than €10.4m during the past three years to support its lottery and a more successful radio bingo game also operated by the charity.
The funding was part of a deal with the State to compensate charities for loss of business following the setting up of the National Lottery.
The money effectively kept alive a 'zombie' lottery scratchcard operation, which barely broke even in 2010 despite selling almost €4m worth of tickets.
And it came as Rehab Group chief executive Angela Kerins again refused to bow to mounting pressure to disclose details of her pay package.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed "surprise" at the paltry amount generated by the lottery for charity. Speaking in the Dail, Mr Kenny compared issues in the charity sector to finding carpets infested with maggots.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton also weighed into the controversy, calling for Ms Kerins to disclose her salary.
Details of the poor performance of the Rehab Lotteries scratchcard game were revealed in the Dail on Tuesday night during a debate where Justice Minister Alan Shatter defended his decision to scrap the compensation scheme for charity lotteries.
The Charitable Lotteries Scheme was established in 1997 to compensate charity lotteries, which are subject to a weekly prize cap of €20,000, for loss of business after the National Lottery was set up a decade before.
It has also emerged that Rehab director and long long-standing Fine Gael adviser Frank Flannery billed the charity for consulting services in both 2011 and 2012 - using a firm that had been dissolved in January 2009.
The total amount involved was €77,000.
Mr Flannery has described the situation as an "embarrassing oversight".