Sunday 25 March 2018

Flannery still won't commit to appearance in front of PAC

John Downing Political Correspondent

EMBATTLED Rehab director Frank Flannery has refused to give a guarantee that he will appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as pressure mounts on the charity.

Mr Flannery broke his silence on the ongoing controversy last night as it emerged he is expected to withdraw from the board of the charity in an effort to reduce political pressure on the organisation.

One well-placed Rehab source said that Mr Flannery believes the controversy has impeded the charity and risked embroiling it in unwanted party political conflicts.

"Purely in the interests of Rehab, in which he worked for over 32 years, he is likely to withdraw from the board," the source told the Irish Independent

But in his first public comments on the ongoing controversy, Mr Flannery would give no guarantee that he will attend the PAC – despite a public direction from the Taoiseach and Tanaiste that he should do so.

He said he had received no direct communication of any kind from the PAC requesting his attendance. This is in spite of heavy criticism by PAC members about his non-attendance at the committee last week.

He added that Rehab chose its own team to go before a hearing last week in response to PAC communications.

Rehab belatedly received another PAC request to include other people but stayed with their original arrangements.

He said that Rehab is forwarding answers to further questions tomorrow or Wednesday and he would await that process to decide whether he would attend in due course.

Mr Flannery said he was very unhappy with the way Rehab had been treated in this process and he insisted that the PAC was exceeding its legal remit.

He rejected reports that he lobbied the Government on Rehab's behalf, in return for fees. He said he sometimes took fees from the organisation and also did work voluntarily.

"Most of my work is on an international level. I occasionally advise government but this rarely involves meeting directly with ministers. 'Lobbying', as such, accounts for about 5pc of what I do," he said.

Mr Flannery also insisted that he had no intention of publicly discussing his former salary, and current pension, from Rehab. "Eight years after my retirement, that is private. It will remain so," he said.


He also brushed aside any suggestions of wrongdoing in his connections with the firm, Complete Eco Solutions, which did loss-making business with Rehab. He said he made no money from this enterprise that "did not come to anything".

Mr Flannery's future as Fine Gael director of elections in the European Parliament and local elections on May 23 is now uncertain.

Last night Mr Flannery told the Irish Independent he and the Taoiseach had already "had a chat" about all these matters – but he added that their discussion were private.

The former Rehab chief executive said all his work for Fine Gael was entirely voluntary and he did not take a penny in expenses.

Irish Independent

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