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Editorial: New start for Rehab organisation should be welcomed

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Angela Kerins

Angela Kerins

Angela Kerins

The Rehab organisation has done many fine things over the years, but a culture of secrecy surrounding the salaries and entitlements of senior members of the board led to an inept appearance before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee and an undoubted loss of confidence by the public at large.

Senior figures at Rehab have argued that it does not get an €80m annual subvention from the State, as most people believe. It is paid this amount of money by the State for the provision of various training services for people with disabilities.

But this is mere semantics; organisations getting large amount of State funds have to be fully open and transparent. The culture of secrecy that has surrounded the earnings of many of those working in State services has largely come to an end, due to the Freedom of Information Act and public intolerance.

Yesterday, Rehab Group experienced a major shake-up, with just three of the old board remaining. But while the experience and knowledge of the new board must be welcomed, it may be difficult for some people to understand why an organisations such as Rehab needs 16 members on its board, a number that seems unwieldy given that it is an organisation with clearly-focused priorities.

But, that aside, the new board must be a good start. The disability sector is one that is badly in need of leadership and support and Rehab has enormous experience in running facilities that provide services to the Government and valuable employment for those in the disability sector.

The new board will not earn any fees for their services, but will be entitled to claim expenses. The organisation has also ended the practice of giving consultancy work to board members. All in all, this is a new departure for the board of Rehab and everybody with goodwill towards the disability sector must welcome it, as a strong, vibrant organisation is needed. While Rehab had been to the forefront in the sector for many years, it was clearly in need of a new direction and a new board to oversee this.

Sean Egan, who joined the board in May was clear that his mission was to "restore public confidence in Rehab and rebuild public trust", and everyone would join in supporting him in these laudable aims.

Church needs to earn forgiveness for sins

The Catholic Church in Ireland has not recovered from the appalling series of abuse scandals and officially-sponsored cover-ups that led to children being damaged over a prolonged period of time. In truth, it never will.

The fault for what has befallen the institution cannot be laid at the feet of any one man, but certainly those in authority bear the most responsibility for those events in a country where Catholicism was almost a State-sponsored religion. That said, the Catholic Church has played a huge part in the health and education of so many over the years and the good that was done should also be remembered, especially when so many sincere leaders are trying to find a new and relevant direction.

Cardinal Sean Brady was a sincere man who had the misfortune to be the titular leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland when it became engulfed in a tide of scandal. His best was just not good enough. His successor, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has promised to be a "servant leader", something needed if the institution is to ever earn the forgiveness of those it so cruelly let down.

Irish Independent