Tuesday 20 March 2018

TDs 'went after Rehab chief's reputation'

Angela Kerins arrives at the Four Courts for her High Court action. Photo: Collins Courts
Angela Kerins arrives at the Four Courts for her High Court action. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Three high-profile TDs had an agenda to "go after" the reputation of former Rehab Group chief executive Angela Kerins, her legal team has claimed.

John Rogers made the allegation about Transport Minister Shane Ross, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness.

The claim came on the third day of Ms Kerins's High Court action seeking damages over her alleged ill-treatment at the hands of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (Pac) in 2014. Mr Rogers said allegations were made against Ms Kerins by Pac without prior notice and that she had no way of defending herself.

Mr Rogers provided the court with a list of accusations and inferences allegedly made against Ms Kerins at a hearing she attended on February 27, 2014, and one she was too ill to attend on April 10 that year.

He said the accusations included that she had a conflict of interest in relation to a business involving family members; that she had sought to decrease the wages of lower paid staff while maintaining her own salary; that she was guilty of "moral turpitude" and had displayed "a lack of probity". Other allegations included that she had destroyed the Rehab Group, and had engaged her predecessor as chief executive, Frank Flannery, in consultancy work against the group's protocols.

The court had already heard Ms Kerins resigned from her €240,000-a-year job at the charity and commercial group just weeks after her Pac appearance. She detailed in an affidavit how she suffered a collapse in her health and attempted suicide.

Her legal action is against the committee, the State and the Attorney General.

Referring to the Pac hearings, Mr Rogers said: "When the court looks at the totality of the transcripts, and I am referring specifically to Deputy McGuinness, Deputy McDonald and Deputy Ross, their intention was to go after the reputation of Angela Kerins."

He said Ms McDonald had made comments which were "judgmental", "damning" and "disparaging" of Ms Kerins. The barrister said other passages suggested Mr McGuinness had adopted a position that was "condemnatory of Ms Kerins".

Mr Ross, meanwhile, had sought to get details of a complaint against Ms Kerins by a Rehab staff member, which was being dealt with through a confidential internal process.

Mr Rogers told the three-judge court that the committee knew it did not have the remit to inquire into much of the Rehab's operations, but did so anyway, asking questions about privately funded salaries and commercial decisions. He is due to complete his opening statements this morning when judges are to be shown footage from the hearings.

Counsel for Pac, Paul Gallagher, will then open his defence.

Irish Independent

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