Monday 19 March 2018

Not just a €742,000 question to be answered

The unfolding CRC scandal is a sordid tale of omissions, obfuscation, and misinformation, writes Maeve Sheehan

David Martin, Jim Nugent and Paul Kiely leave a PAC meeting in December. Photo: Gareth Chaney
David Martin, Jim Nugent and Paul Kiely leave a PAC meeting in December. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Former CRC chief Paul Kiely with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

When the spotlight first turned on the Central Remedial Clinic over the salary top-ups scandal two months ago, its board of directors was confidently robust that there was nothing untoward on the shop floor.

Like other health agencies and voluntary hospitals, the CRC had been loading the salary of its recently retired executive, Paul Kiely, his successor, Brian Conlan, and, at that time, five other staff members. Kiely earned twice the public sector salary he should have been on, while Conlan was cheaper but still "over the limit" at €125,000. But breaking the Government's strict public sector pay rules wasn't the only issue. Politicians at the Public Accounts Committee started asking: where exactly were they getting the money to top up these salaries if it wasn't coming from State funds?

In the midst of this, James Nugent, chairman of the CRC and veteran Fianna Fail appointee to State boards, convened a director's meeting in the boardroom of the Clontarf headquarters. According to informed sources, the board at large was led to believe there was nothing to worry about. The next day, November 22, Nugent issued an email that was circulated to staff and the press: "The top-ups were funded from the commercial activities of the CRC and not from general public donations or fundraising events and challenges."

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