Monday 11 December 2017

CRC board of governors all resign 'with immediate effect' after top-up row

Members who have resigned from the CRC board of governors include (left to right) David Martin, Hamilton Goulding and Jim Nugent
Members who have resigned from the CRC board of governors include (left to right) David Martin, Hamilton Goulding and Jim Nugent
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE HSE has taken control of the running of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) following the shock resignation of its entire board.

The board of the CRC have quit following weeks of controversy over salary top-ups paid to some executives at the clinic.

A HSE statement has revealed that the agency sought the board’s dissolution at a meeting between CRC directors and HSE officials yesterday.

The HSE also sought the resignation of any members of associated subsidiaries, including the Friends and Supporters of the CRC, the associated charity that provided funds for the payment of the salary top-ups.

A HSE spokeswoman said: “The HSE has appointed an administrator who will immediately take on the interim responsibility for overseeing the work of the CRC and for leading the introduction of new governance arrangements for CRC and its associated subsidiaries.

“In this regard, the HSE is also working with Boardmatch Ireland to put in place these new governance arrangements and to appoint new Governors.”

“The HSE will also be moving quickly to recruit a new CEO through the Public Appointments Service”, she added.

The statement ended: “The HSE is committed to ensuring that the confidence of the clients and dedicated staff of CRC, together with that of the general public who have so generously supported the Clinic for more than 60 years, can be fully restored.

“This will ensure that that CRC can continue to provide the high quality care, treatment and development for children and adults with physical disabilities for which it is so well known.”

The under-fire board of governors of the Central Remedial Clinic have announced that they’re resigning with “immediate effect”.

In an email sent to staff at the CRC earlier this evening, members who are also directors of the  ‘Friends & Supporters of the CRC’, the controversial fundraising arm that funded salary top-ups to senior executives from donations received from the public, said they were stepping down from those roles as well.

CRC directors have also stepped down from the boards of ‘CRC Medical Devices’ and the Care Trust.

In the statement emailed to staff this evening, it said: “Following the resignation of the board, the work of the dedicated staff and supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic to sustain, support, develop and protect the volume, quality and reliability of the services available to people with disabilities in Ireland deserves to continue as it has for more than six decades”.

The clinic has been mired in controversy since it emerged that former chief executive Paul Kiely had his €106,000 salary topped up by a further €136,000 using funds provided by the Friends and Supporters of the CRC organisation.

When he appeared at a fraught sitting of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, Mr Kiely revealed that funds from the same company were used to pay him a €200,000 lump-sum upon his retirement last summer.

He also announced that he had resigned his role on the CRC board.

Mr Kiely’s successor as chief executive, Brian Conlan previously stepped down last weekend in the wake of the salary top-ups row.

The CRC representatives who attended the PAC were bombarded with calls for their resignation by TDs and senior government figures including Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Justice Minister Alna Shatter had also called for them to go.

That Public Accounts Committee uncovered that the clinic had paid millions of euro to the Mater Hospital in pension payments - €660,000 a year. The Mater will be asked to explain this next Thursday.

Meanwhile the Irish Independent revealed today that more than 50 staff at the CRC school had written a letter demanding the board step down, accusing the board of "defending the status quo at all costs".

Now the remaining ten members of the board have resigned including chairman and acting chief executive Jim Nugent and former chairman Hamilton Goulding, the son of the CRC’s co-founder Lady Valerie Goulding.

Other confirmed board members up until 10 days ago were Vincent Brady, Ailbhe Rice-Jones, Martin Walsh, Hassia Jameson, Francis Sheppard, Pat Ryan and Professor Mary Day.

The Mater has accepted €660,000 was paid into the Voluntary Hospital Superannuation Scheme (VHSS) last year and said the hospital will be liable for CRC pensions for 181 staff "in perpetuity".

The arrangement was put in place in the 1970s for what the Mater said were "legal and technical reasons".

But Mr Kiely said the payment to the Mater included a premium of 10-12pc for administration of the pensions scheme even though a grade three civil service clerk could have been employed to do it.

As well as Mr Kiely, the CRC has been found to have dipped into charity funds to boost the already substantial salaries of four other managers by tens of thousands of euro every year.

A manager of client services, an administrator and HR manager were each on a Health Service Executive-funded salary of €79,000.

But the CRC took cash from its fundraising company called Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic to boost their executive pay packets by €32,357 each.

In the case of the IT manager, who was also on an HSE salary of €79,000, the top-up was €37,841.

Mr Kiely retired on a pension of around €90,000 a year from a private scheme - which was also propped up by a €3 million loan from the donations.

Around 70 staff at the CRC are involved in the private pension scheme.

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