Thursday 26 April 2018

PAC to demand report that set Rehab boss Kerins' salary

The Rehab Group’s board meets over the salary of chief executive Angela Kerins (right). Picture: MARK STEDMAN/PHOTOCALL
The Rehab Group’s board meets over the salary of chief executive Angela Kerins (right). Picture: MARK STEDMAN/PHOTOCALL

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

THE Dail's spending watchdog is to demand that the Rehab Group releases the expert advice it received when setting the €240,000 salary of its boss.

The charity and commercial group's board commissioned a report from international recruitment experts Towers Watson to advise it before a €6,000 pay rise was given to its chief executive Angela Kerins.

However, Rehab's board has refused to release the report or data contained within it, saying the information is confidential.

The stance has put it on collision course with the Public Accounts Committee, which will seek a copy of the report when it quizzes Ms Kerins and other Rehab executives, possibly as early as next week.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said: "We'll be asking for the report or the rationale that supports the payment of high salaries, including Angela Kerins. If there is commercially sensitive stuff in there, fine, but the broad structure of that report needs to be made available."

The committee has invited Ms Kerins and other senior executives to give evidence on February 27, but had yet to receive a response last night.

A spokesman for the Rehab board declined to comment when asked if the report would be released.

One prominent board member, Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery, was tight-lipped on the issue when contacted by the Irish Independent.

"I am not dealing with that at all. No, no, I won't be talking. Nothing, nothing at all to say," he said.

Representatives of Towers Watson made a presentation at Monday's board meeting before Ms Kerins's salary was released. The meeting was held amid mounting political pressure for the group to clarify her pay levels.

Last month Taoiseach Enda Kenny and several ministers called on Ms Kerins to reveal her salary, given the large sums of public money Rehab Group receives.

Companies within the group got €82m in public money last year to provide care and training services for the disabled.

A Rehab spokesman said the Towers Watson report grouped together information on pay of executives at between 40 and 50 companies similar in size to Rehab in terms of turnover and number of people employed.

"It was a very exhaustive study," he said.

The looming row over the report is just one of a number of issues still facing Rehab.

It is also facing growing political pressure to publish details of all of its senior executives.

The Rehab board gave a commitment that the total remuneration of senior management would be published in its accounts from 2015 onwards, in line with recommendations which come into force that year.

It declined to clarify whether this meant an overall figure for all executives would be given or if each position would be itemised in the annual accounts.

However, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said yesterday that everyone who receives public money in any organisation should have their salary levels published in a transparent manner.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also said there needed to be transparency in relation to salaries in the voluntary sector. PAC members Simon Harris of Fine Gael and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein said the 2015 commitment was too long to wait.

Mr Harris said: "Partial transparency is not transparency. I welcome the fact that the salary of Rehab's chief executive has finally been published, but we are a long way from having a complete picture of how senior managers at the organisation are paid."

Meanwhile, Ms McDonald said: "It is ridiculous for them to say that they won't make information available on other salaries. That's not a runner."

Irish Independent

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