Kerins’ retirement not expected but not a surprise

Decision comes before potentially confrontational showdown with Public Accounts Committee

 Angela Kerins who has decided to step down as  Rehab chief executive. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Angela Kerins who has decided to step down as Rehab chief executive. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 13:13

Angela Kerins decision to step down as chief executive of Rehab comes a week ahead of what might have amounted to a confrontational showdown with the Public Accounts Committee.

For months, the PAC has being doggedly pursuing the disability charity group over the pay levels of its executives and its use of public funds, particularly in respect of its lottery.

Ms Kerins’ retirement was not expected but was not altogether a surprise. The group, like other Section 38 and Section 39 charities, bodies and voluntary hospital, has faced a barrage of criticism over its executive remuneration and other issues, which has dented its reputation.

The departure of Ms Kerins follows recent announcement by her predecessor Frank Flannery that he was stepping down from the board.

Mr Flannery was also very well known as a senior adviser (particularly on electoral strategy) to Fine Gael and to its leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The disclosures by The Irish Times that he was paid generous fees by both Rehab and Philanthropy Ireland for lobbying work were components in Mr Flannery’s decision to step back from all his public roles.

Ms Kerins, in a short statement this morning, cited the toll the ongoing controversy had had on Rehab but also on her family. It is known that both she and Mr Flannery received anonymous threats in recent week.

It can be argued that the recoil can be of greater magnitude than the controversy for the individuals involved. Being caught in the unremitting glare of public controversy is difficult and one would need a very strong hide to emerge from it all unscathed.

That said, the decision was probably beneficial to Rehab, given the drubbing it and other charities has taken in recent month in respect to governance issues.

There is evidence that donations across the entire sector have fallen because of public misgivings that they money being donated is not being used as they would expect it.

Her departure will give Rehab an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and perhaps reappraise its strategic direction and its purpose.

It must not be forgotten that Ms Kerins was a very effective CEO and the turnover of the group was very impressive.

There is a sense that it has become more identified as a business in recent years despite its charitable status.

Will this put an end to the matter?

Unlikely?

Senior officials from Rehab have been invited to appear before the PAC again on April 10th as the committee continues to scrutinise its pay levels and governance issues.

Committee members are expected to focus not only on Ms Kerins’ salary of €240,000 but also the fact that some 12 executives of the group earn over €100,000 per annum.

There is an expectation that Mr Flannery will also appear. He has indicated his willingness but it is understood that he has yet to respond formally.

It is not known yet what Ms Kerins intentions are in relation to an appearance. PAC members, including Mary Lou McDonald, have said today they still expect both to appear.

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