Kerins defends salary amid robust grilling at PAC

Rehab chief tells Dáil committee charity not a State-run body and staff not public servants

Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins arrives for a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee at Leinster House this morning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins arrives for a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee at Leinster House this morning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 00:07

Rehab group chief executive Angela Kerins has said she has a contractual entitlement to a bonus payment of up to 30 to 35 per cent of salary.

However she told the Dail Public Accounts Committee that she had never received that amount.

Ms Kerins today defended her salary at Rehab and said senior staff at the organisation are paid 20 per cent below the market rate.

In her appearance before the committee, Ms Kerins declined to provide details on her receipt of a €6,000 pay increase over recent years.

This month Rehab’s board gave in to political pressure to reveal the remuneration paid to Ms Kerins. The figures showed her salary had risen to €240,000 from €234,000 in 2011.

The committee was today seeking details about the €83 million Rehba receives from the State, as well as about the governance of the organisation. Before the hearing, politicians on the committee insisted they want more details on pay, pensions and bonus payments for senior Rehab executives.

Giving evidence at the committee this morning, Ms Kerins said she was a private citizen working in a non-State company and she had already waived privacy rights to set out her current remuneration levels.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald asked her whether this amount represented an increase of around €6,000.

Ms Kerins said that she did not decide on her salary, which was benchmarked externally and approved by the group’s remuneration committee. She said she did not intend to give out any more of her personal financial information. She said no State body had requested details of her remuneration.

Ms Kerins also touched on the contentious question of pay policies for top managers at Rehab, saying that pay for the group management team was “at least 20 per cent below” the current market mid-point, or median, in a sample of private State and semi-State companies.

They are compliant with public pay policy, she said, adding that her pay is not paid out of money from the public.

This afternoon, Ms Kerins again insisted her salary is not paid from any of income from the State, but rather from the “general income” of the Rehab group. “There is “more than enough income coming in there to cover my salary,” she said. “It’s not dependent on the fundraising income.”

She said her contract can provide a bonus of up to 30 or 35 per cent. “I have never received that. I would have to meet particular targets to achieve a particular bonus. The reality is I haven’t had it for many years and it isn’t my intention to be looking for it.”

“We don’t enjoy the comfort of being a public sector organisation,” said Ms Kerins, noting that Rehab has to “pick up its own bills”.

She also said it would be “a narrow and misleading” comparison to compare Rehab to a normal charity. But it has that not for profit ethos that the private sector doesn’t have, she insisted.

In her opening statement this morning, Ms Kerins said the organisation was “Ireland’s largest glass recycler”.

“We are not a State-run organisation nor are any of our staff public servants,” she said. “We are responsible for paying all our own bills.

“We have no guarantees from Irish government departments to cover any of our deficits,” she said.

She also said she was “very concerned” that the publication of staff contact details on the Rehab website could bestow an advantage to competitors.

PAC chairman, Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, said Rehab should take this issue up with the public bodies concerned.

Mr McGuinness described Ms Kerins’s remark as a “ticking off” at the outset of the hearing but said the material provided had been provided by the committee in preparation of its work.

She also challenged the decision by the Government to scrap the charity lottery compensation fund, saying this had been done “without any discussion, warning or meeting”.

“There is no sense in any argument that the fund should be abolished without the removal of the cap on the prize fund for charity lotteries,” she said.

The hearing has now adjourned.