Irish News

Friday 25 July 2014

Rehab ex-chief who avoided grilling by watchdog was in Dail at the time

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

Published 01/03/2014|02:30

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Former Rehab Group chief executive Frank Flannery
Former Rehab Group chief executive Frank Flannery

PRESSURE is mounting on Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery to explain why he did not attend a hearing of the Dail's spending watchdog despite being in Leinster House at the time.

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Mr Flannery, a board member and former chief executive of Rehab, was seen by TDs in an Oireachtas restaurant on Thursday afternoon while the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was in session.

The committee had invited Mr Flannery to attend the Rehab hearing as members wanted to ask about the pension he was receiving from the charity and commercial group.

They also had queries about €77,000 in consultancy fees Mr Flannery earned from Rehab, as well as his involvement with a company called Complete Eco Solutions, which had dealings with Rehab.

Mr Flannery is a director of this company, along with Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins's brother, Joseph McCarthy. Ms Kerins's husband, Sean, is a former director.

Ms Kerins told the hearing Rehab had dealings with Complete Eco Solutions on a pilot scheme for a coffin business but said the arrangement never went any further than that.

Mr Flannery did not return calls seeking comment last night. In a text message to the Irish Independent, he said: "Nothing at all to say."

Several members of the PAC, including chairman John McGuinness, Independent TD Shane Ross and Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald, have queried why he wasn't present.

An independent TD who is not on the committee, Finian McGrath, said he was shocked when he saw Mr Flannery entering the members' restaurant in Leinster House.

"I think it is a bit rich and he has a brass neck to be hanging around the Dail restaurant while Rehab are before the PAC, which he was invited to attend," Mr McGrath added.

The PAC had also asked for Rehab's remuneration committee to attend, but they did not.

By way of explanation, Ms Kerins said she had brought officials with her she believed were best placed to answer the committee's questions about the use of funding the group receives from Solas, the HSE and the Department of Justice.

This funding totalled €83m last year.

When asked by Mr McGuinness on Thursday if she had asked Mr Flannery or the remuneration committee to attend, as the PAC had requested, she admitted she had discussed it with Mr Flannery.

However, she would not elaborate on this conversation.

It emerged at the hearing that Ms Kerins is entitled to a bonus of up to €84,000 on top of her salary of €240,000.

However, she has not claimed a bonus for the past four years.

Rehab last night refused to clarify to the Irish Independent whether other executives had an entitlement to bonuses and if these were being drawn down.

TRANSPARENCY

It said it was currently examining how it would publish details of executive pay later this year.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan called for greater transparency about the salaries of top executives in the charity sector.

"Unfortunately, the charity sector generally has suffered a great deal and the fact we will have a Charity Regulator is a good thing and I think that can't come soon enough, because people have to have confidence when they give money to charities," she said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness said last night the PAC would be seeking further legal advice after being told it could not disclose the salaries of some Rehab executives.

The information was provided to the committee by the HSE on Thursday, but the PAC's legal adviser said there was data protection implications attached with publishing the salaries of some executives from Rehab Group subsidiaries, Rehab Care and the National Learning Network.

Mr McGuinness said he would also be contacting Ms Kerins to ask her to waive any objections to its publication.

Irish Independent

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