Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Kids' services are cut while bosses secretly top up their obscene pay'

Aisling McNiffe, pictured with her son Jack (11), who attends St Raphael’s School in Celbridge, Co Kildare Photo: Gerry Mooney
Aisling McNiffe, pictured with her son Jack (11), who attends St Raphael’s School in Celbridge, Co Kildare Photo: Gerry Mooney
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Angry parents of children with special needs who attend a St John of God-run school are calling on the charity to reveal the names and salaries of all executives who received top-up payments.

The families are furious that 14 senior managers who work in the organisation shared in a €1.64m upfront payout to cover pension and other employment contract liabilities.

Aisling McNiffe, whose 11-year-old son Jack attends St Raphael's in Celbridge, Co Kildare, said: "I am disgusted at the news at a time when we are suffering a series of cuts."

The payments were made in late 2013 in the wake of the top-ups scandal and ranged from €50,000 and €250,000.

The St John of God order, which receives around €131m in funding from the HSE, said it had contractual obligations to staff.

It says that it paid the money out of private finances - its income from rents and investments. However, a review is under way by the HSE to find out why the order did not declare the payout at the time. The charity is a Section 38 agency which means its staff are public servants, and they get public service pensions. They should comply with HSE rates of pay.

The lay chief of the order, John Pepper, received €600,000 of the €1.64m in pension and employment liabilities. He is paid directly from the private funds of the order and is not a Section 38 employee. It means he is not subject to pay caps.

Ms McNiffe said yesterday that, given the struggle faced by services, any excess funds should have been used for people with a disability and mental health needs.

Brian and Deirdre Kiernan, parents of Kate (12), said: "It's unjust and immoral that services to the most vulnerable children and adults are being cut while the executives of the very same service are secretly topping up their already obscene salaries."

Philip and Chris Hannon, parents of Mary (10), said: "The sense of betrayal we now feel is intense."

A spokesman for the order said: "We fully appreciate and understand the level of hurt some parents are expressing about the payments and services, but we are satisfied that following the HSE review, the payments will be seen as a discharge of pension and contractual liabilities."

Irish Independent

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