Flannery seeks ‘genuine’ apology from PAC

Former Rehab chief and FG strategist says it would be a ‘positive development’

 Frank Flannery: “I might talk to Phil Hogan about Galway and Kilkenny in a Leinster final and on a friendly basis with people in the party. Am I talking to people about Fine Gael policy? No.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Frank Flannery: “I might talk to Phil Hogan about Galway and Kilkenny in a Leinster final and on a friendly basis with people in the party. Am I talking to people about Fine Gael policy? No.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Sat, Jul 19, 2014, 01:01

Former Rehab chief executive and Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery has said a meaningful apology from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the way it treated him would be a “positive development”. Earlier he had accused committee members of attempting to run amok and of behaving in “an illegal and almost righteous fashion”.

Mr Flannery sharply criticised the committee and some of its members in a round of public interviews yesterday after the body which sets Dáil rules earlier this week said the committee did not have the power to compel him to appear before it.

The interviews on RTÉ and Newstalk Radio were his first lengthy broadcast interviews since he became embroiled in Rehab controversies earlier this year. In them he accused the PAC of acting illegally and being “feral” in seeking “publicity at all costs”. He also said the PAC ignored legal advice that it was straying beyond its remit.

The Committee on Procedures and Privileges told the PAC it could not compel Mr Flannery or Angela Kerins, another former Rehab chief executive, to give evidence to TDs. TDs had sought to question him about his activities with Rehab, including thousands of euros of fees paid to him by the charity for lobbying the Government.

Mr Flannery told The Irish Times last night he was considering a number of options for action against the PAC, including possible legal actions. However, he added: “An apology from the PAC, if it was made genuinely, would be significant step forward. It would be a positive development.”

While Mr Flannery resigned from his position earlier this year following the Rehab lobbying controversy, he said he would have to think “long and hard” if he was asked to return and contribute to the party. He had served the party for decades, and added: “There isn’t much more I can give. I don’t think they need me any more.”

He also said he had not spoken to Taoiseach Enda Kenny since resigning in March, but he had been contacted by friends in Fine Gael, although he had not discussed strategy with them. “I might talk to Phil Hogan about Galway and Kilkenny in a Leinster final, and on a friendly basis with people in the party. Am I talking to people about Fine Gael policy? No.”

Mr Flannery will speak at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, next week on electoral trends.

During his broadcast interviews, he also criticised Independent TD Shane Ross, and said it was an “absolute farce” that Mr Ross was a member of the PAC and a columnist writing about the committee’s work. “Did he ever wonder there was some conflict of interest?” He also accused the committee of launching an assault on Rehab, “the organisation I loved”, and then “extended the assault to me”.

Mr Ross last night said there was no conflict and he was open and transparent in declaring his interests every year.