Friday 24 November 2017

Charity cash used to boost CEO salary as late as July

Brian Conlan
Brian Conlan

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE board of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) decided to use charity funds as late as July, as it opted to add around €40,000 to the salary of its new chief executive Brian Conlan.

CRC chairman Jim Nugent said they looked at what might be a "workable salary" for the new chief executive -- and decided on €125,000.

The board had told the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2009 that it would phase out salary top-ups and any new executives would be paid the recommended scale.

However, the HSE set the salary for Mr Conlan at around €83,000 -- which meant the board had to go back to its fund-raising arm, the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic, for the difference.

After Mr Conlan asked that the salary be reduced to the HSE-recommended sum, it was cut to the publicly funded €83,000 from October 1.

Mr Conlan, who resigned on Monday, claimed that he had believed the top-up came from public funds, and that charity money was not involved.

A spokesman for Mr Conlan said yesterday that it was his "understanding" that his salary was entirely funded from the HSE allocation.

"He would not have agreed to being paid monies sourced from charitable public donations."

He said that during his five-month tenure, the chief executive's pay was set in excess of the HSE's payscales for just three months.

Mr Nugent said the original salary plus top-up was set because otherwise other managers would have been paid more than the chief executive.

"We advised the HSE what we were doing," he added.

The post of chief executive was not advertised externally, and interviews were confined to Mr Conlan and senior managers at the clinic. An outside recruitment agency conducted the interviews, but it was the board that made the final decision.

"He was on the board for nine years and was highly competent," he added. The CRC always behaved properly and correctly, he said.

Earlier, fellow director David Martin referred to a letter written by former CRC chairman Des Peelo to the HSE in November 2009, saying that once the HSE stopped funding the salary top-ups, the organisation would pay them from their own funds.

Deputy John McGuinness said it was clear that the HSE was aware where the money was coming from -- but it never replied to Mr Peelo and there was no correspondence from the HSE to the CRC until September 2012.

"The HSE appeared to be laying a paper trail in 2013, covering its tracks," he added. If the HSE had tried to deal constructively with the issue, instead of allowing it to "drift along", the current mess may have been averted, he added.

Irish Independent

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