Rehab accuses Government of being ‘disingenuous’

Charity group questions timing of Shatter’s intervention with High Court ruling pending

 The Rehab Group Headqarters in Sandymount, Dublin, pictured this afternoon. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

The Rehab Group Headqarters in Sandymount, Dublin, pictured this afternoon. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 18:32

Rehab Lotteries has accused the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice of being “disingenuous” in expressing surprise at the low profits margins reported by the group.

An audit carried out by the Department of Justice showed the charity’s gross lottery sales in 2010 of almost €7.2 million yielded a net profit of €558,000 or 8 per cent.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter last night raised concerns over the figures and questioned the “costly” legal action taken by the charity against Government moves to phase out a State scheme to compensate private charity lotteries.

His concerns were echoed today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny who said he was “surprised to hear the numbers”.

In a statement tonight, however, Rehab hit back at the criticism , claiming the Government had reviewed the scheme regularly and found it to be “both necessary and appropriate”.

A spokesman for the group also questioned the timing of Mr Shatter’s intervention with the High Court ruling on the matter imminent.

“The Rehab Group reiterates its concern at the inappropriate comments of the Minister for Justice on cases currently before the High Court, in which the Minister is a Defendant.”

“Given the widespread coverage of these comments in the media that Rehab considers to be misleading, we feel it important, in the interests of fairness, to set out Rehab’s position.”

Mr Shatter’s decision to pull the plug on funding for charity lotteries has soured relations between Government and Rehab, the main beneficiary of the funding.

The Charitable Lotteries Scheme (CLS) was established in 1997 to compensate charity lotteries, which are subject to a weekly prize cap of €30,000, in contrast to the National Lottery which pays out millions each week in prizes.

This regulatory position means that charity lotteries are essentially prevented from competing with the National Lottery.

Prior to the National Lottery’s establishment in 1986, Rehab Lotteries commanded 25 per cent of the market; now it has just 1 per cent.

In its statement, Rehab said the CLS scheme was established so charities would drop their campaign to scrap the prize cap and maintained the position of the Government’s own National Lottery.

“This is a condition of the scheme. Therefore it is quite disingenuous for any person in government to express surprise or shock at the performance of any charity lottery.”

Rehab said the impact of the prize cap on charity lotteries was “the very reason” for the existence of the compensation scheme for charity lotteries.

Earlier, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said Mr Shatter had been concerned about Rehab Lotteries “for some time”. Talking to reporters this morning, Mr Quinn said it was “correct” for Mr Shatter to raise the matter in the Dáil yesterday.

“The matter will be pursued by the relevant Oireachtas committees,” he added.

Mr Shatter’s intervention last night follows disquiet over the refusal of Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins to reveal her pay. It comes as political scrutiny of the charity sector deepens in the wake of disclosures about the Central Remedial Clinic.

Mr Shatter expressed particular concern about lotteries operated by Rehab, which provides education, training and employment for people with disabilities. “I noted that the profit ratio seemed disproportionate and expressed concern at the approach being taken to public fund raising.”