Monday 16 December 2019

Changes send right message but it won't be easy to restore confidence

REHAB Group AGMs rarely make the headlines.

Business has traditionally been conducted in private. Such was the recruitment process used by the charity and commercial group, with existing members nominating potential new ones, it was inevitable these would be dull affairs.

It was also inevitable that over time the board would become stale and that the organisation it presided over would become increasingly detached, insular and secretive.

Although receiving tens of millions of euro each year to provide services for people with disabilities, it developed a private mindset. Getting information about how public money was being spent on salaries was a torturous process for TDs who went looking for answers.

Bonuses were routine for senior executives, yet board members could not tell the Dail Public Accounts Committee how much home-help workers were being paid.

Top-ups were made to pensions, but Rehab would not say if this was the case with Angela Kerins.

It felt like information had to be almost dragged out of the board.

This is a bad recipe when you are a large business with 3,200 staff scattered across 260 locations and rely heavily on the good will of the public and the Government.

Thankfully this year's AGM was nothing like those before.

This time the board was almost completely gutted. A diverse range of candidates with skills across a variety of sectors were brought in.

The message sent out was clear. The group regretted its mistakes and now wants to restore public confidence and trust.

It will not be an easy task and incalculable damage has been done to the image of the group and it will take some time for it to recover.

Irish Independent

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