Monday 22 December 2014

Spending watchdog 'absolutely expects' Kerins to appear at PAC next Thursday

Published 03/04/2014 | 11:54

Angela  Kerins. Photo: Tom Burke
Angela Kerins. Photo: Tom Burke

THE head of the Dail's spending watchdog said he "absolutely expects" outgoing Rehab Group chief executive Angela Kerins and former board member Frank Flannery to appear before it next week.

The comments came as the Public Accounts Committee disclosed it had received no formal confirmation from Rehab as to who would attend.

A spokesman for Rehab has told media outlets, including independent.ie, that Ms Kerins, chairman Brian Kerr, and members of its remuneration committee had confirmed they would attend the PAC hearing on April 10.

He said he was unaware of any change to this situation following the shock announcement of Ms Kerins's retirement yesterday. She is due to finish with the charity and commercial group, where she has an annual salary of €240,000, tomorrow.

However, she will continue to assist in the running of the group for a further period.

Mr Flannery, who stepped down from the board last month amid controversy over his failure to appear at a previous hearing, has indicated he had yet to decide whether he will attend.

Despite the public comments of the Rehab spokesman, members of the PAC expressed concern today that there had been no formal confirmation of who would be in attendance from Rehab.

Chairman John McGuinness said he “absolutely expects” both Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery to attend next week's hearing.

“It is no harm to make it clear that we intend to pursue our work next Thursday as agreed,” Mr McGuinness said.

The committee is to write to Rehab today seek clarity on who will be attending.

Committee member and Independent TD Shane Ross said a “very stiff reminder” should be sent.

Another committee member, Fine Gael TD Paul Connaughton, described Rehab as "extremely secretive" and said getting information from them was like "pulling teeth".

"No matter what question you ask, you don't get an answer," he said.

Mr Connaughton said Rehab itself was to blame for the damage being done to its image.

Labour TD Robert Dowds said: "The damage being done by their behaviour is huge and it is in the best interests of everyone that they attend."

Another Labour committee member, Derek Nolan, said it would be "unfortunate if by resigning certain people were left off the hook."

It will be the second PAC hearing in just two months involving Rehab, which receives over €80m in State funding.

The charity and commercial group has been rocked by a series of controversies in recent months over salary levels, the performance of its lottery, and allegations which are being examined by the garda fraud squad.

Ms Kerins announced her retirement as CEO in a letter to staff yesterday.

She has faced much scrutiny in recent months after initially refusing to divulge her salary.

Ms Kerins is now\set to face questions from the committee about the size of her severance package.

So far, she has refused to say what payments she will receive.

The 55-year-old had been due to stay at the helm of Rehab for at least another five years.

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