Wednesday 17 October 2018

Frank Flannery quits Fine Gael roles and Rehab board

Fine Gael strategist leaves in an effort to reduce pressure on organisation

Rehab director Frank Flannery
Rehab director Frank Flannery
John Downing

John Downing

EMBATTLED Rehab director and Fine Gael election strategist, Frank Flannery, has dramatically resigned from both jobs.

The announcement came after controversy about calls for him to appear before the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer questions about pay, pensions and other perks at the disabled services charity, Rehab.

He was chief executive of Rehab for 25 years before retiring in 2006. He later held a seat on the Rehab board since 2011 and was very active on their behalf.

He has now resigned from the Rehab board and all work as a Fine Gael election strategist and party trustee.

This is Mr Flannery's statement in full:

"I have informed the Chairman of the Rehab Group board, Mr. Brian Kerr, that I wish to step down as a director of the Rehab Group and any other group boards with immediate effect.  It is a step that I undertake with real regret but I have come to the opinion that my involvement with the board is making the Rehab Group the subject of political controversy as this time.  I spent 34 years in the Rehab Group and retired in December 2006.  I rejoined the board in 2011.  The Rehab Group has played an enormously valuable role in Irish Society for nearly 70 years and I wish it continued success for the future.

"I have also informed the General Secretary of Fine Gael, Mr. Tom Curran, that I am stepping down as Director of Elections and as a Trustee of the party as of today.  My involvement with Fine Gael related only to electoral strategy and organization and I had no role in advising the government.

"Fine Gael has been mandated, along with the Labour Party, with the onerous task of turning the economy around after the deepest recession since 1929.  I believe the government, and Fine Gael in particular, is performing well and the economy is on the mend.  The party and the Taoiseach will continue to have my complete support and I will assist the party in any way I can as a private citizen and as a proud ordinary member of Fine Gael."

This evening, The Rehab Group issued a statement thanking Mr Flannery for his work over the years.

"The board of the Rehab Group would like to sincerely thank Mr Flannery for his service as a board member and wish him well for the future," it read.

The resignations leave serious doubt about him ever appearing before the PAC to answer questions. 

PAC members said they wanted to question him his pay and pension and about reports that he was paid to lobby the government. 

PAC also wanted to question him about links to a company which did business with Rehab.

Mr Flannery had been a key political adviser to Enda Kenny and Fine Gael since Kenny’s election as party leader in June 2002.

Before his resignation announcement nine members of government – led by the Taoiseach and Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore – had publicly called upon him to cooperate with PAC.

But Mr  Flannery told the Irish Independent he could not guarantee he would attend PAC and he criticised the committee’s operations accusing the members of exceeding their powers.

He also made it clear that he would not discuss his pension or pay and insisted he had done nothing wrong in his links with the company, Complete Eco Solutions, which was doing business with Rehab.

Flannery was among a small team credited with taking FG from the brink of extinction after an electoral meltdown in the May 2002 general election to a landslide win in the February 2011 election.

Up to this week Flannery was engaged in detailed preparations for Fine Gael’s local and European election campaign ahead of polling day on May 23 next.

Flannery had a lifetime of involvement in Fine Gael first becoming active in the party as a student in University College Galway in the early 1970s. 

He was among a group of people who advised FG leader and Taosieach Garret FitzGerald in the early 1980s.

But Flannery was not close to the later leaders and only returned when Kenny was elected in 2002. 

He helped plot a party revamp and with big gains in the 2004 and 2009 local and European elections and significant gains in the 2007 general election which they lost to Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail.


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