Friday 26 December 2014

Shane Ross: More charitable misdeeds will blight the nation

Shane Ross on the 'awful reality' behind the misuse of charitable funds

Shane Ross

Published 01/12/2013 | 02:30

Paul Kiely, formerly of the Central Remedial Clinic, pictured with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

PERHAPS Paul Kiely, the big beast from the Central Remedial Clinic, was watching Friday's Late Late, Toy Show. Kiely earned €236,000 last year for looking after the needs of disabled kids. If he caught the programme, he would have seen eight-year-old Domhnall O Confhoala from Galway enjoying a moment of happiness.

Domhnall's hero, soccer star Robbie Keane, appeared on stage from nowhere to make Domhnall's day. Earlier on, 10-year-old Mary Gormley from Tyrone, currently recovering from leukaemia, celebrated with her own long-cherished ambition to join Ryan Tubridy on the show.

Robbie Keane charged nothing. The Irish captain proved that you can do a great deal for the children of Ireland, healthy or not, without plundering the treasury. No doubt the message would have been lost on Kiely.

Kiely charged a lot to look after sick children. Five grand a week, to be precise. Nobody knew about the source of most of his vast income until last Wednesday, when I dug up the accounts of an associated company, 'the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic'. That is where all the loot has come from.

The story worsened on Thursday when I discovered a note to the 2012 accounts. The 'Friends and Supporters' had provided a stunning €3m to top up the pension pots of unnamed persons working for the CRC.

It will be interesting to hear the recently-retired Kiely's comments on this when we welcome him to the Dail's Public Accounts Committee shortly.

We are accustomed to dictators in the Third World diverting outside aid from its intended targets.

Outside aid from ordinary volunteers, intended for the children of Ireland, was missing its destination by a country mile. Top executives seem to have believed that they themselves were more deserving cases than disabled children.

The ugly face of modern Ireland was surfacing all last week. The Central Remedial Clinic, set up to help disabled children, was also enriching an oligarchy. It was a clinic with queues, with a waiting list, making cuts while giving "top-ups" to its bosses. The children of Ireland will have to wait. The fantasy world of Domhnall O Confhoala, Ryan Tubridy and Robbie Keane was a fleeting moment, an escapist dream. The world of Paul Kiely is the awful reality.

Expect more tales of charitable misdeeds to emerge this week. They are already breaking out like a rash. Greed is not confined to the private sector. Publicly-funded bodies are in the dock. The disease is everywhere. The sick and the children are the victims.

The rewards enjoyed by many 'champions of charity' would make even Ireland's bankers blush. Bankers, public servants and politicians' behaviour – acting in unison – has left our children unprotected from the consequences of naked greed. The legacy debt to the nation, incurred by our plutocrats has been saddled on the children and grandchildren of Ireland. Like Kiely and his ilk, bankers and developers still swagger the streets, retired and reviled, but unpunished, boasting fat pensions.

The good and the great of Celtic Tiger madness live on, untouched or even still in situ. Political connections surface everywhere. How on earth did the Central Remedial Clinic fall into the hands of a gang of Fianna Fail do-gooders? No political party is known for its philanthropy, least of all Fianna Fail. Theirs is an efficient, political machine, dedicated to power. Their attachment to charities is a new phenomenon.

A prominent member of Bertie Ahern's Drumcondra mafia, a Fianna Fail loyalist who gave Bertie a €2,500 dig-out, a former Fianna Fail cabinet minister and an accountant to both Charlie Haughey and Bertie Ahern, somehow, all landed on the same patch in Clontarf, north Dublin.

Together, inspired by a common altruism, they combined with other directors to promote the good works of the Central Remedial Clinic. Somehow, they just must have taken their eye off the ball when the "top-ups" went through and one of their number ended up with €5,000 a week.

The young people of Ireland must be shell-shocked at the shenanigans of the political and financial classes. They must watch and wonder as the Government brags about our – disgraceful – 12 per cent jobless rate. They must stand and stare when spokesmen insist that our exit from the bailout regains our "economic independence", knowing that it copperfastens the albatross of debt around their necks and imprisons our children for decades to come.

The children of Ireland and Domhnall and Mary of the Late Late Toy Show should enjoy the moments with Robbie Keane and Ryan Tubridy. It is up to the rest of us to ensure that they never enter the world of Paul Kiely.

Sunday Independent

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