Thursday 14 December 2017

Taoiseach joins Gilmore, Bruton and Varadkar in call on Kerins to reveal salary as Rehab insist lottery will continue even without subvention

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have called on Rehab boss Angela Kerins to disclose her salary.

Mr Kenny urged her to do so this afternoon, while earlier today the Labour leader insisted that all charities should reveal what their chief executives are paid in their annual accounts.

Speaking during 'Leaders' Questions' this morning, Mr Gilmore reiterated the importance of restoring public confidence in charities when they are making donations.

Asked whether he believed Ms Kerins should disclose her salary, Mr Gilmore said this information should be made public by all charitable bodies.

With regard to the issue of transparency, I'm in favour of transparency. And I'm in favour of organisations making known in their accounts for example the salaries that they pay to their chief executives," he said.

"To be frank with you, I don't see any reason why salaries paid to chief executives or senior people in charitable organisations or other bodies should not be made available through way of information," he added.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, left, and Rehab CEO Angela Kerins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, left, and Rehab CEO Angela Kerins
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

Earlier today, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton also called on the head of the charity to disclose her wages as he said it's important to have this transparency "where public money is being expended".

"There is a huge change in the Irish environment. Virtually all areas are coming under scrutiny," he said.

Both announcements follow a similar call from transport minister Leo Varadkar today.

He said the controversy “will not go away “until the salary is made public - and claimed it is not feasible for the company to refuse to do so.

“I don’t think they will be able to not answer that question,” he said.

He also said Rehab was using its lotteries to increase the money it got from the State.

“The first fact is that only 8 per cent of the money that you pay when you buy a Lotto ticket goes to charitable causes,” Mr Varadkar said. “They were using the system to maxmise the compensation they got from the State.”

Meanwhile a member of the Rehab Lotteries board has said the lottery will continue after a government subvention ends.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has warned that government subvention for various charity lotteries – introduced after the National Lottery was established – is ending. 

‘‘We will continue and we will continue to fight for equality and justice and greater fairness in terms of the prizes we can give out,’’ Rehab Lotteries board member John McGuire said.

‘‘The government can’t have it both ways, they can’t have a competition free market by restricting the charities through legislating and giving the national lottery a free reign,’’ he told RTE's Morning Ireland.

Mr McGuire said he would be happy to appear before the Public Accounts Committee but said the issue of her salary was nothing to do with him.

‘‘The salary of the chief executive is a matter for the group board. I’m a member of the lottery’s board and I’ve no role in that area,’’ he said.

It was revealed earlier this week that in 2010 out of a total of €4m generated by tickets sales and a government subvention, the charity made just under €10,000.

Asked where the €4m went he said, ‘‘Well in very round terms we give 66 per cent of that back in prizes to the public.’’

He said the charity pays the retailers twelve and a half per cent and the printing and distribution of tickets accounted for five per cent.

Remaining money went towards the salaries for the 12 people working for the company.

‘‘The real issue here is that charities are not being allowed to compete with the National Lottery.

‘‘Charities relied on lotteries as a means of fundraising before the National Lottery was introduced in 1987,’’ he said.

He said the government gave a commitment in advance that if it had any negative impact on charities, they would be compensated.

Rehab Lotteries received more than €10.4m during the past three years to support its lottery and a more successful radio bingo game also operated by the charity.

The money effectively kept alive a 'zombie' lottery scratchcard operation, which barely broke even in 2010 despite selling almost €4m worth of tickets.

Chiefs of the Rehab charity have claimed that they are the real victims as the controversy into its finances continues.

It blamed the government for the tiny profits on its scratch card lottery.

Mr McGuire insisted the profits were low because the government has imposed a prize limit of €20,000 per week, and the National Lottery dominated the sector.

By Aishling Phelan

Online Editors

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