Wednesday 17 January 2018

'No doubt' what CRC board should do

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described recent disclosures as 'startling'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny described recent disclosures as 'startling'
Paul Kiely, left, the former chief executive of the Central Remedial Clinic, and acting chief executive Jim Nugent leaving Leinster House after giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee

The board of the scandal-struck Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) should resign, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has suggested.

With unanswered questions over annual payments of 660,000 euro to the Mater Hospital and hundreds of thousands paid in top-ups, senior CRC figures are considering their future.

One of them, Paul Kiely, said yesterday he received a 200,000 euro pay-off lifted from charitable donations for his pension.

The Taoiseach described recent disclosures as "startling".

"I understand the board have gone off to consider their positions," Mr Kenny said.

"Clearly this has been a shock to so many people who give and gave of their monies in this particular case to CRC in the understanding that it was going for children and adults who needed the facilities and the care that was being provided."

Mr Kenny stopped short of joining Justice Minister Alan Shatter in his calls for the board to resign.

But he said there was no doubt of what should be done.

The Mater Hospital insisted yesterday that millions of euro paid to it by the CRC was for the disability unit's pensions and not a phantom fund.

After bizarre disclosures about the arrangement - described as "bonkers" at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing yesterday - the Dublin hospital said it was in charge of retirement payments for 181 CRC workers.

Mr Kiely, CRC former chief executive, said he tried to break the payments a number of times but was warned to stay away.

He said he handed over a cheque every year for 666,000 euro (£560,000) to the Mater in a supposed mystery deal.

Today, the Taoiseach said of the CRC board: "I think that the PAC in its five-hour analysis and engagement with them yesterday left nobody in any doubt about what should be done here.

"We'll see what they return with."

Meanwhile, the justice minister said there needs to be legislation on regulating charities to ensure donations are spent appropriately.

"The recent revelations of course have given an insight into some financial dealings that I believe were completely and highly inappropriate with regard to any charitable organisation," Mr Shatter said.

"But it has been my view that we deal with this for some time."

He said plans to implement such legislation were under way.

Elsewhere, Sinn Fein deputy president Mary Lou McDonald urged Health Minister James Reilly to take control of the scandal surrounding the CRC.

She criticised Mr Kiely and claimed his comments before PAC were "palpably arrogant".

"We discovered yesterday, that in addition to paying top-ups to senior executives, that there are also gold-plated retirement packages being doled out, which are partly paid for by money donated for children with disabilities," Ms McDonald said.

She said the position of the board is "untenable" and that members should resign.

"When will this government take control of this situation and restore confidence to the charitable sector, which is suffering a huge crisis of confidence in relation to donations?" she said.

Bosses at the Mater, who are to be hauled before PAC next Thursday, reacted angrily to Mr Kiely's claims yesterday and demanded that he retract his allegations.

They said the money goes into day-to-day accounts and in turn the pensions of CRC staff are paid from the hospital's current accounts.

The Mater accepted 660,000 euro (£552,000) was paid into the voluntary hospital superannuation scheme (VHSS) last year and said the hospital will be liable for CRC pensions "in perpetuity".

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

At the time the CRC was not classed as a hospital and could not be funded through the Department of Health and the Mater was used as conduit for funding.

According to the Mater, the funding arrangement was stopped more than a decade ago but the disability clinic's staff remained members of its voluntary hospital superannuation scheme.

Press Association

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