IRELAND'S best-paid charity boss was awarded a pay rise to bring her salary to €240,000.
The €6,000 salary hike was outlined after the Rehab Group board bowed to huge public and political pressure to reveal the current pay package of its chief executive Angela Kerins.
Ms Kerins had consistently refused to reveal her salary in recent years, despite the fact that companies in the group receive more than €80m annually in state funding to provide services for the disabled.
Rehab's position has been that she was paid from its commercial interests and not from any state money, and as such it was not obliged to divulge her salary.
However, following a board meeting yesterday it released a statement clarifying her salary.
Ms Kerins's last known salary had been €234,000 in 2011.
Rehab's board approved the pay rise at some point in the past two years after taking expert financial advice on her pay.
It did not say exactly when the pay rise kicked in or what the exact nature of the advice it received was.
A Rehab source insisted, however, that Mrs Kerins's rate of pay was 20pc below the market median. The pay hike was also largely in line with inflation.
However, the salary was criticised by Fundraising Ireland, an organisation for professional fundraisers.
It said the delay in disclosing Ms Kerins's salary "only served to heighten the crisis of confidence in the charity sector".
Its chief executive, Anne Hanniffy, said Ms Kerins's salary was "out of touch with the realities of remuneration in the overwhelming majority of not-for-profit organisations in Ireland".
The pay increase was greeted with concern by support groups, which have looked on as disability services have suffered in recent years.
Just two years ago, 18 workers at the Rehab Group's Galway recycling plant, many of whom have disabilities, were made redundant.
The hourly rate of pay for staff with disabilities at the facility was €9.09, of which €5.05 was covered by a wage-subsidy scheme, a programme run by FAS to subsidise the employment of people with disabilities. The cost to Rehab was €4.04 plus pension costs.
Rehab blamed the job losses on the “economic downturn”.
Lorraine Dempsey, of the Special Needs Parents' Association, said salary increases to top executives in Rehab should be examined against the backdrop of such cuts in services.
Last month Ms Kerins called for more transparency about salaries in the charity sector – but at the time, she refused to disclose how much she was being paid.
During an interview with RTE’s ‘Morning Ireland’, Ms Kerins was asked whether she still earned €234,000 – which was her last publicly disclosed salary.
She said: “The most important thing is that the remunerations of all senior staff are independently done by professional people who know what they’re doing and can evaluate it properly, so I don’t wish to comment on anybody’s salary other than say that that should be done and should be transparent.” Pressure for Ms Kerins to release her salary peaked last month after Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed a scratch card lottery run by Rehab made just €10,000 despite sales of €4m in 2010.
The revelation sparked a major controversy and attention quickly turned to Ms Kerins. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore led calls for the Rehab chief executive to be transparent on the issue of her remuneration.
In a statement last night, Rehab chairman Brian Kerr said: “The board was reluctant to publish these details previously for three main reasons. Firstly, Rehab continuously competes for business at home and abroad with a range of private companies which do not have to disclose such information.
“Secondly, we wanted to receive up-to-date advice from our legal and remuneration advisers; and thirdly, we are also acutely conscious of our duty to all of our employees under privacy law and the Data Protection Acts.”
The statement said Ms Kerins's salary was €240,000 per annum and that she had voluntarily waived all bonus entitlements for the last four years. She has a defined contribution pension scheme with Rehab contributing 6pc of salary, or some €14,400, to this scheme. It said Ms Kerins did not receive additional fees for sitting on various subsidiary boards. She has the use of a company car for which she pays “benefit in kind” tax, but is not in receipt of private health insurance as part of her package.
It is understood this amounts to a tax payment of around €7,000-a-year. The statement added: “The rate of pay for the Rehab Group chief executive is significantly below the market median.”
Rehab chairman Brian Kerr said: “We are satisfied that this is a competitive and fair remuneration for the person leading the Rehab Group. In order to achieve our growth strategy and expand services to people who need them, a remuneration policy to attract and retain qualified and talented employees is vital, and the CEO role is no exception.”
The board also said that it would publish the total remuneration of senior management in its accounts from 2015 onwards.
The Wheel, a national network of 930 charities, welcomed the board of Rehab's decision to disclose the salary of its CEO.
Its Director of Advocacy Ivan Cooper said: “This is a good day for transparency in the non-profit sector, and we'd like to acknowledge the significance of the decision taken by the board of Rehab.”