Dáil’s public accounts watchdog found former Rehab chief Flannery neither full nor frank

A long and evasive path led to a situation from which there was only one way out

Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 01:00

Rehab is said to be preparing a “full and frank” response to questions sent to them by the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee before this week’s meeting. It still isn’t known if the team they field will include the man that the PAC is urgently trying to pin down — one Mr Full and Frank Flannery. Because, as they see it, Flannery has been neither full nor frank with them so far.

He has his own view of the matter, and of his rights where his appearance or otherwise is concerned. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and sundry Ministers have urged him to go before the committee as they have requested, but that’s Frank’s call to make. And he isn’t doing it for the moment, which is strange, given the calibre of the people asking him, although he may yet be compelled to give evidence. Then again, Full and Frank is more used to giving politicians advice than they are giving it to him.

Flannery has been in difficulty since that first PAC no-show. Yesterday afternoon, following revelations in Saturday’s Irish Times that he was paid tens of thousands by Rehab to lobby the Government he played a key role in getting elected, he resigned from the board of Rehab and quit his advisory roles in Fine Gael.

So Frank Flannery has thrown himself under the bus to save . . . well, who, exactly? Rehab, he says. He had “come to the opinion” that his membership of the board of directors is dragging the organisation into political controversy. (And not the manner in which he has dealt with a standard request from a Dáil committee, which is the opinion some might come to.) Fine Gael, say others.

The story of Full and Frank Flannery was becoming a major embarrassment to the Government, Fine Gael and, in particular, Enda Kenny. Flannery may well have been persuaded to take this course of action. We hear Kenny, in this, his bonanza month for feelgood photo opportunities, was raging with him.

Saving himself?
Or could Frank be saving himself? He may not have to appear before the PAC now, as he isn’t a board member of Rehab anymore. Although the majority of the members aren’t going to let him away that easily. Although why Full and Frank didn’t simply appear at the committee when first asked and bluster like his former colleagues is a bit of a mystery. He could have written down on a piece of paper figures concerning his pension or the like, if he didn’t want his privacy invaded. All he did was invite further scrutiny.

Funny, but a report surfaced in January about the amounts of money paid in 2011 and 2012 to Flannery by Rehab for “consultancy” services. Which could mean anything. Except, as we found out, the service was lobbying Kenny’s Fine Gael-led government.