Flannery faces call from all parties to attend PAC

FG spokesman says Flannery is ‘not on the payroll’ of the party

Rehab director Frank Flannery. The disclosure that he was paid by Rehab to lobby the Government has intensified political pressure on the Fine Gael strategist. Photograph: Eric Luke

Rehab director Frank Flannery. The disclosure that he was paid by Rehab to lobby the Government has intensified political pressure on the Fine Gael strategist. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 08:25


Rehab director Frank Flannery is facing demands from across the political spectrum to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions on his pension and lobbying of the Government for the disabilities group.

The Fine Gael strategist has not yet said whether he plans to attend. “Frank is still considering his position,” said a source close to Mr Flannery last night.

Rehab is preparing to provide a “full and frank” response this week to 12 detailed questions submitted to it by the PAC after a seven-hour hearing two weeks ago with its chief executive Angela Kerins.

The expectation last night was that the response would go tomorrow to the committee, whose next regular meeting is on Thursday.

It is understood that consideration is also being given to the provision of a separate statement by Mr Flannery after Rehab makes its submission to the PAC.

Mr Flannery is Fine Gael’s director of organisation but the position is unpaid.

The party’s spokesman said he understood this had been the case since Fine Gael took office in 2011. He did not know what the situation was before that. “Frank is not on the payroll and he hasn’t submitted invoices to the party,” the spokesman said.

Rehab chairman Brian Kerr declined to answer questions about Rehab’s engagements with the PAC when contacted yesterday evening at his home.

Coffin business
The PAC’s original point of interest was in Mr Flannery’s pension and in his involvement in a company with Ms Kerins’ husband and brother which supplied components for a coffin business to Rehab in 2010.

However, the disclosure in The Irish Times on Saturday that he was paid by Rehab to lobby the Government has intensified political pressure on Mr Flannery.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had already said that he should attend the PAC and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore reiterated his demand yesterday.

New legislation would establish a register of professional lobbyists so the public could see “who is lobbying on behalf of whom and for what”, Mr Gilmore said.

Cooling-off period
“It will also provide for a way in which there will be a cooling-off period for people who are in either in public life or in the public service before they can engage in lobbying activities on areas for which they had responsibility in public life or public office.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald also called on Mr Flannery to attend the committee.

The records of the British subsidiary through which Rehab paid consultancy fees to Mr Flannery show that his services cost a total €90,860 over two years.

While annual accounts for TBG Learning state that he received €79,860 in 2012 and €11,000 in 2011, this included VAT at 23 per cent.

Lotteries scheme
One of the key issues on which Mr Flannery lobbied the Government is a special support scheme for charity lotteries, which is being phased out.

Records released under the Freedom of Information Act point to a detailed engagement in 2012 and 2013 between Ms Kerins and the Department of Justice in relation to Rehab’s payments.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter wrote to Ms Kerins in October 2012 to say the initiative, under which Rehab had received almost €80 million since 1997, could no longer be justified.

“It is hard not to conclude that some lotteries assisted by the scheme come to serve as vehicles for leveraging Government funding, rather than as an effective means of fundraising directly from the public for a charitable cause, as originally intended,” Mr Shatter wrote.