Kerins says PAC clerk warned her about committee members

Affidavit says clerk told charity chief he resisted attempts to call in Rehab

Angela Kerins: has accused the committee and its members of being motivated by “political and public relations objectives and personal vendetta”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Angela Kerins: has accused the committee and its members of being motivated by “political and public relations objectives and personal vendetta”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 01:00

Former Rehab chief Angela Kerins claimed in her High Court proceedings that the clerk of the Public Accounts Committee told her he tried for months to resist a request to bring the disability group before the committee.

Ms Kerins’s claim, previously unreported, was made in her affidavit to the court in which she sought compensation arising from the PAC’s investigation into Rehab. She claims the committee treated her very unfairly and that she lost her job and suffered illness as a result.

In her affidavit, she said she had a conversation on February 21st with the PAC clerk, Ted McEnery, almost a week before she and other senior Rehab figures appeared before the committee at a seven-hour hearing.

She said Mr McEnery explained what might be expected of Rehab at the hearing and explained that there was agitation about her salary.

“He volunteered that he had been trying to resist the request for Rehab to be called in for approximately three months. He pointed out that the committee only dealt with public money,” she said. “He warned me about the behaviour of members and advised that I hold the line about why I was there and the proper remit of the committee but not take them on.”

There was no response to Ms Kerins’s claim about the PAC clerk from the Houses of the Oireachtas and The Irish Times was unable to reach Mr McEnery, who is on leave.

“It would be inappropriate to comment,” said an Oireachtas spokesman.

The PAC is understood to be taking legal advice on Ms Kerins’s action and will have an opportunity later in proceedings to respond.

Ms Kerins has also claimed she discussed the forthcoming hearing with the PAC chairman John McGuinness, Fianna Fáil TD for Kilkenny, in the offices of a public relations company the month before her appearance.

Mr McGuinness has said there was nothing unusual in such engagements. But certain PAC members and observers in political circles generally, including at high levels in his own party, believe such contact between the PAC chairman and a future witness was inappropriate.

One of her central claims is that members of the PAC strayed beyond its legal remit in their conduct of the hearing. She has accused the committee and its members of being motivated by “political and public relations objectives and personal vendetta” rather than the lawful discharge of the PAC’s functions.

“Even insofar as the private meetings of the PAC are concerned, my advisers and I have read about what the PAC proposes to do next in the newspapers and it is only subsequently that I received correspondence in this regard,” she said.