Sunday 18 February 2018

Kerins sanctioned €400k Flannery fees without board's nod

Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery had legal letters sent to Rehab board members preventing them from detailing pay
Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery had legal letters sent to Rehab board members preventing them from detailing pay
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

REHAB boss Angela Kerins sanctioned payments of more than €400,000 in consultancy fees to Frank Flannery without seeking approval from the charity's board.

Flannery received more than €409,774 in fees from Rehab since stepping down as chief executive eight years ago.

The former Fine Gael strategist and close friend of Taoiseach Enda Kenny resigned from the Rehab Group board after it was revealed he lobbied the Government on behalf of the charity.

The extent of the payments to Mr Flannery were revealed to the Dail's public spending watchdog as senior figures from Rehab were grilled about how the charity spends more than €95m of taxpayers' money annually.

Mr Flannery and recently resigned Rehab CEO Angela Kerins refused to attend the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings.

Rehab board members attending yesterday's meeting said they received legal letters from both Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins gagging them from revealing their remuneration details.

Rehab remuneration committee chairman Declan Doyle said the board received correspondence from Ms Kerin's solicitor "prohibiting" the release of her pay details.

Mr Flannery sent a similar letter threatening legal action if his salary and pension details were made public.

Mr Doyle was joined at the hearing by Rehab Group chairman, Brian Kerr, board members Hugh Governey and Liam Hogan, and director of finance Keith Poole.

Mr Poole revealed that Mr Flannery received payments ranging from €40,000 in 2007 to €79,950 last year for consultancy services.

The consultancy payments were sanctioned by Ms Kerins without seeking approval from the board. The fees were paid to Mr Flannery's firm Laragh Consultancy until Rehab discovered it had lapsed.

It also emerged the payments were initially coming from the Rehab Group but this changed when he became a director in 2011 and he was then paid through a UK subsidiary of the charity.

Mr Poole said the payments were for "international representation and lobbying" on behalf of the charity.

Mr Flannery defied calls from the Taoiseach on Wednesday and wrote to the PAC outlining his reasons for refusing to attend.

In his letter, he questioned the political motives of the committee and described the hearing as a "smokescreen".

Ms Kerins said she could not attend due to ill health.

PAC chairman John McGuiness described the snub as "unacceptable" and said he would be forced to compel them if they continued to refuse to attend.

Rehab Group chairman Mr Kerr said it was "unfortunate" that both refused to come before the committee.

"I think it would be better if they could have seen a way to appear," he added.

All five Rehab representatives refused to blame either Mr Flannery or Ms Kerins for the damage caused to the charity's reputation in recent months.

Independent TD Shane Ross suggested the board was "dominated" by both former chief executives and failed to question decisions made.

Mr Poole said Ms Kerins was a "forceful individual" but claimed it made her a "great asset" to the organisation .

Hugh Governey admitted the board made mistakes and said they decided to come to the hearing "with their hands up".

"It is time for urgent and radical change," he added.

Irish Independent

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