Sunday 28 December 2014

TD defends PAC in wake of legal action by Rehab chief

Published 23/07/2014 | 02:30

Ex-Rehab boss Angela Kerins
Ex-Rehab boss Angela Kerins

A leading member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says he makes "no apology" for making the top people in Rehab accountable in how they spend taxpayers' money.

In a robust defence of his role on the PAC, Independent TD Shane Ross said the committee was entitled to hold such people up to robust scrutiny. Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Ross said: "Despite the court case, we make no apology in ensuring top people are accountable for taxpayers' money.

"We will not lose sight of that objective no matter what obstacle is put in front of us."

Mr Ross was reacting to the lodging of a High Court action against the committee by former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins on Monday. Fine Gael TD John Deasy last night rallied to the defence of PAC chairman John McGuinness, who has had to defend his meeting with Ms Kerins before her appearance before the committee last February.

"By any objective standard, John McGuinness has done a very good job of chairing the committee during the Rehab issue," said Mr Deasy.

Mr McGuinness drew some criticism after Ms Kerins in her High Court affidavit revealed she had met Mr McGuinness before her appearance.

However, Mr McGuinness insisted there was nothing unusual about his meeting with Ms Kerins, who earned €240,000 a year in her post.

He said such meetings were not out of the ordinary. Mr McGuinness said the committee and the wider Oireachtas would robustly defend the High Court action being taken by Ms Kerins against the PAC.

In her affidavit she has claimed that committee members were engaged in a "witch-hunt" against her during her seven-hour appearance last February and said she lost her job and suffered illness as a result of the experience.

Formally, any case against an Oireachtas committee comes under the jurisdiction of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. Its legal adviser, Melissa English, was said to be studying the affidavit yesterday and was expected to form an opinion for the committee in due course.

Last night, a spokesman said the Oireachtas had not received legal papers relating to Ms Kerins. "We are in the dark, and it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter," he said.

Irish Independent

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