Thursday 12 December 2019

Rehab hires another Fine Gael heavyweight to calm storm over pay

Gerry Naughton
Gerry Naughton
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

REHAB has enlisted the services of another former Fine Gael heavyweight to handle the fallout from the ongoing controversies at the charity.

Gerry Naughton, a former political adviser to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, started working with the charity days after Frank Flannery resigned from the Rehab board.

Mr Naughton works for Drury Communications – the firm drafted in to tackle the media storm caused by the row over salaries and pensions paid to senior Rehab staff.

He has worked closely with Mr Flannery, a Fine Gael strategist of almost 20 years, during several election campaigns.

Fine Gael has tried to distance itself from the charity after it emerged Mr Flannery was paid to lobby Government ministers on behalf of Rehab after he stepped down as chief executive.

Mr Flannery, who was the charity's chief executive for 25 years, simultaneously resigned from his role as a strategist with the Fine Gael and as a board member of Rehab when the payments were revealed.

His resignation was closely followed by the departure of his successor, Angela Kerins, who was earning €240,000-a-year before she resigned.

Both Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery gagged the Rehab board from disclosing their salaries and pension details at this week's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

However, the board did reveal Mr Flannery was paid €409,000 in consultancy fees since he retired as Rehab chief executive eight years ago.

Mr Naughton attended Thursday's PAC meeting where the Rehab board was grilled for six hours about the charity's governance.

He was appointed as a political director by Mr Kenny in 2003 following the publication of Mr Flannery's influential Fine Gael policy document, the Flannery Report, which is widely regarded as the blueprint for the party's current success.

Mr Naughton, a former civil servant, previously worked with Mr Kenny while he was Minister for Trade and Tourism during the nineties. During a 20-year career in the civil service, Mr Naughton worked was as a private secretary for Fine Gael ministers John Kelly and John Bruton.

He also served under Fianna Fail ministers Charlie McCreevy, Des O'Malley and Padraig Flynn.

Mr Naughton stepped down from the party in 2008 and became director of communications with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

He took up his current position with Drury Communications in 2011.

Rehab recently parted ways with Insight Consultants – the PR firm owned by Michael Parker, which the charity worked with for almost eight years.

Mr Parker became embroiled in the Rehab scandal when developer John Kelly claimed Mr Parker was among the Rehab representatives he spent €100,000 entertaining in a bid to buy the charity's Dublin headquarters.

Mr Parker, Ms Kerins and other Rehab representatives used Mr Kelly' private helicopter to fly to London for on all-expenses-paid trip, according to the developer.

Mr Kelly claimed he paid for the flights and hospitality to increase his chances of buying Rehab's headquarters in Sandymount, Dublin 4.

Rehab denied the trip was business related and insisted the sale of the land was not discussed.

Irish Independent

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