Wednesday 13 December 2017

Rehab disputing claim charity ignored audit

Angela Kerins, Chief Executive, Rehab Group
Angela Kerins, Chief Executive, Rehab Group

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

CHARITY Rehab has disputed claims made by a Department of Justice official that it did not respond to a damning audit of its lottery scratch card operation.

In the latest twist in the row over the lottery scheme, the Dail's Public Accounts Committee heard that a department official was concerned about what they termed the charity's failure to respond to the audit findings.

Details of the letter emerged as the committee discussed plans to call representatives of the charity to give evidence after an audit found that almost €4m in scratch card sales had netted a surplus of just €10,000.

Rehab has been involved in a bitter row with the department over plans by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to disband a scheme which supplies state funding to the lottery.

The issue was raised at the committee by Fine Gael's Simon Harris, who said an official wrote a letter "alleging Rehab had not responded" to the audit.

He said this needed to be checked with Rehab before the charity was called to the committee in the coming months.

The same allegation was made by the department's principal officer in its charities regulation unit, Una Ni Dhubhghaill, in an affidavit linked to court proceedings taken by Rehab against the state over the planned closure of the charity lottery compensation fund.

Under the fund, charities received millions of euro from the State each year to compensate them after the setting up of the National Lottery. But Mr Shatter plans to shut down the fund by 2016, claiming it encourages inefficient fundraising practices.

Rehab Group declined to comment last night and it is understood it has sought a copy of the letter highlighted by Mr Harris. However, the Irish Independent has seen an affidavit by Rehab Group chief executive Angela Kerins which disputes the allegation.

In it Ms Kerins says she wrote to the department's head of internal audit, Walter Johnston, with what she described as "a full response clarifying a number of issues".

"In that letter I informed Mr Johnston that the audit report 'demonstrates serious and material misunderstanding of the charity lottery compensation fund'."

Irish Independent

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