independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Under-fire Rehab charities got €80m in taxpayers' cash

Angela Kerins. Photo: Damien Eagers.
Angela Kerins. Photo: Damien Eagers.

COMPANIES in the Rehab Group received €27m from the state training agency Solas last year.

The disclosure of the sum brings to almost €80m the amount of taxpayer funding that the charity received in 2013.

Solas, the successor to FAS, revealed the figure in a letter to the Dail's spending watchdog.

It was the final piece of information sought by the Public Accounts Committee as it looked for a clearer picture of the extent of state funding received by the charity.

The committee is gearing up to question Rehab on its use of state funding amid controversy over the refusal of the group's chief executive, Angela Kerins, to reveal her salary.

Ms Kerins has refused to do so on the basis that her pay package is funded from the group's private earnings and not from any public money it receives.

There has also been criticism in recent weeks from Justice Minister Alan Shatter of Rehab Lotteries' scratch card game, after an audit found that it generated a surplus of just €10,000 on the back of €4m in sales in 2010.

The HSE and the Department of Justice had previously informed the committee that it gave €50.2m and almost €2.6m respectively to Rehab Group subsidiaries last year.

Correspondence from Solas chief executive Paul O'Toole states that a Rehab subsidiary, the National Learning Network (NLN), received €25.6m in 2013 in return for providing specialist vocational training.

TRAINING

Some €1.4m was also paid to Rehab under the heading "other training", while Rehab Recycling received €20,000.

The sum paid to the NLN was down on the €27.4m it was paid in 2012. That year it provided 1,804 places on its FAS-sponsored training programmes at 30 centres around the country, according to Solas.

Meanwhile, the former chairwoman of the Dublin Docklands Authority, Prof Niamh Brennan, has indicated to the Public Accounts Committee she will not be able to give evidence to it until the end of August.

The delay has irked several committee members who wish to conclude their investigation into the soon-to-be defunct development body well before then.

The corporate governance expert said she had UCD commitments in Germany and Switzerland this month and after that was travelling to Canada where she is taking up a visiting professorship at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.

She told the committee it had "not yet approached the point of establishing the primary facts" surrounding the disastrous €412m Irish Glass Bottle site deal, which plunged the DDDA into financial crisis.

Prof Brennan has requested that the committee get to the bottom of the deal before they question her.

She was appointed to the authority following the collapse of the property market in order to oversee inquiries into its activities during the boom years.

Irish Independent

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