Flannery may be compelled by Dáil to appear for questioning

Committee hears former director of Rehab was paid fees of more than €409,000 from 2007 to 2013

 Rehab chairman Brian Kerr on  Kildare Street, Dublin, yesterday before addressing the Public Accounts Committee. Picture Stephen Collins / Collins Photos

Rehab chairman Brian Kerr on Kildare Street, Dublin, yesterday before addressing the Public Accounts Committee. Picture Stephen Collins / Collins Photos

Fri, Apr 11, 2014, 01:00

FIACH KELLY


Former Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery is facing Dáil moves to compel him to appear at the Public Accounts Committee if he does not voluntarily attend to answer questions on his dealings with Rehab, the disability charity.

Mr Flannery, for years a ranking adviser to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, refused to attend a PAC hearing yesterday on the affairs of Rehab, where he was a director until last month.

With former chief executive Angela Kerins absent due to ill-health, when Rehab chairman Brian Kerr went before the PAC, committee chairman John McGuinness said several key questions remain unanswered.

“It’s clear from our hearings today that there are still outstanding questions for them. To conclude the investigation properly, they would need to come before the committee. That is my opinion after today’s meeting,” Mr McGuinness said last night.

“If they fail to come forward in a voluntary way, we’ll have to request compellability from the CPP,” he said, referring to the Dáil committee on procedure and privileges. This committee, on which the Government has an inbuilt majority, would determine whether to compel Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins to attend.

“This is a matter that will be put before members at the next meeting, which is on Thursday week,” Mr McGuinness said.


Lobbying work
The PAC heard Mr Flannery was paid more than €409,000 in professional fees by Rehab over seven years for work commissioned by Ms Kerins or two other Rehab executives. Mr Flannery, who was Rehab chief executive until 2006, became a director again in 2011. It was the disclosure by The Irish Times of his lobbying work, at a time when he occupied his Fine Gael post, that prompted his exit from the party and the Rehab board.

He received €40,000 in 2007, €68,750 in 2008, €44,044 in 2009, €60,000 in 2010, €51,000 in 2011, €66,000 in 2012 and €79,950 in 2013. Only part of the 2011 payment and his 2012 payment were previously disclosed as Rehab did not publish payments when he was not a director.


‘Questionable’ engagement
Mr Kerr said it would be “more then helpful” if Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery each appeared before the PAC and said he had anxieties about Mr Flannery’s engagement by Rehab when he was a director. “I felt that it was questionable, but I believed he was doing a good job and it was necessary.”

Mr Flannery told The Irish Times yesterday the people who paid him spent their money well. “The work I did was properly entered into, contractually, in every respect, and properly dealt with, and I am very comfortable that people got good value.”