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CRC company 'spent €18k on travel junkets'

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 Brian Conlon. Photo: Tom Burke

Brian Conlon. Photo: Tom Burke

Brian Conlon. Photo: Tom Burke

A COMPANY set up by the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) to distribute wheelchairs and other devices spent almost €18,000 on travel and entertainment.

The revelation came as it emerged the ex-head of the CRC, who claimed he had received a lump-sum payment of €200,000, received a pay-off worth €742,000.

The secret arrangement for Paul Kiely was found by a HSE official looking at CRC accounts and revealed at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

HSE human resources director Barry O'Brien discovered it when he took over as temporary chief executive of the clinic following the resignation of Brian Conlon.

Mr O'Brien found that in addition to the €200,000 Mr Kiely declared, he had received a further €273,336. Another €268,689 had to be taken from the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic (FSCRC) to ensure Mr Kiely would get a pension of nearly €100,000 a year because he was taking early retirement.

The payments were agreed by the board, which was chaired by Jim Nugent. They came on top of a €3m loan taken from the charity fund to prop up pension funds of a number of staff.

The PAC also heard details of at least five trips undertaken by a manager.

TD Shane Ross outlined foreign travel undertaken by Simon Hall, who organised "study days" abroad.

Mr Hall travelled to locations including Nashville, Florida, Buenos Aires, New Delhi and Vancouver.

Brian Conlon, who took over from Mr Kiely in July and resigned in December, said the CRC Medical Devices Company – set up to distribute wheelchairs – spent €14,000 on foreign travel and €3,900 on entertainment in 2012.

Mr Conlan also told the committee yesterday he was "not aware" of the arrangements for Mr Kiely and called the deal wrong.

SIPHONED

He claimed that while the public perception was that donations were "siphoned off" to pay for bonuses for executives, he believed that all money given the CRC and the HSE by the public was pooled into one fund.

But the PAC repeatedly told Mr Conlon that he lacked credibility.

The details of the pay-off were revealed after the HSE appointed an internal administrator to the CRC on December 18 following weeks of scandal regarding top-ups and alleged financial mismanagement.

Auditor John Cregan has told the HSE that the fund was finalised around the same time that two transfers – totalling €450,000 and €250,000 – were made out of the accounts of the FSCRC.

These amounts were described as donations.

The PAC has now called for Mr Kiely and CRC board members to explain themselves before a hearing.

hnews@herald.ie


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