Flannery may be compelled to attend PAC hearing
Kenny calls for ‘clarity and co-operation’in Flannery’s dealings with PAC
Frank Flannery, who has resigned from his roles as a director of organisation and director of elections with Fine Gael, at the party’s recent ardfheis. Photograph: Eric Luke
Former Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery now faces the prospect of moves to compel him to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to discuss his pension, lobbying and business links with Rehab.
After Mr Flannery resigned yesterday from a number of positions in Fine Gael and the charity, Taoiseach Enda Kenny led calls for him to give evidence at a public hearing of the committee.
Mr Kenny said it is important there should be “clarity and co-operation” in Mr Flannery’s relations with the PAC. “I am sure that if he is invited that he would attend there.”
PAC chairman John McGuinness said the committee clerk has written to Mr Flannery directly inviting him to appear “at a date to be agreed”.
“He’s an informed citizen, he knows more than most what happens before the committee and we would like to hear from him.” Mr McGuinness said he would ask the PAC to compel him to attend if it comes to it, but hoped it would not.
“We can request compellability but my belief is that it shouldn’t go that far and that Frank Flannery should appear and allow us to do our work.”
Such a request would be subject to the agreement of the PAC, and to a vote on Committee on Procedures and Privileges, on which the Government has an inbuilt majority. A senior political source said it was significant that Mr Kenny’s remarks, on a visit to Manchester, regarding the PAC were unprompted by any questions.
Mr Flannery did not respond to queries last night and a source close to him did not say whether he would attend. “When he is invited, he will respond clearly.”
The Taoiseach was unhappy about Mr Flannery’s handling of recent controversies involving Rehab, which has been under pressure over its pay policies and business affairs. It intensified when The Irish Times disclosed on Saturday that he had been paid thousands by Rehab to lobby the Government.
This prompted a fresh wave of pressure on Mr Flannery within the Coalition, and complaints that the Rehab affair had gone on too long without adequate response from Rehab.
It led to Mr Flannery’s resignation yesterday as a Rehab director, as well as a Fine Gael trustee, director of organisation and director of elections for the upcoming local campaign.
At the apex
He has been at the apex of the Fine Gael organisation for decades, and is
also credited with helping to rebuild Fine Gael, alongside Mr Kenny, after its worst election performance in 2002. In a statement, he said Fine Gael and Mr Kenny “will continue to have my complete support and I will assist the party in any way I can as a private citizen”.
However, he did not address outstanding questions surrounding his lobbying, pension and business arrangements with Rehab. The charity is expected to provide written responses to the PAC today and the committee will discuss the affair on Thursday.
Mr Flannery spent 34 years working for Rehab, before retiring as chief executive in 2006. He rejoined the board in 2011 but has stepped down with immediate effect.
“It is a step that I undertake with real regret but I have come to the opinion that my involvement with the board is making the Rehab Group the subject of political controversy at this time,” his statement added.
Rehab in a stament last night said: “The Rehab Group Board has today received the resignation of Mr Frank Flannery ... [The board] would like to sincerely thank Mr Flannery for his service as a board member and wish him well for the future.”