Ex-CRC chief to appear before PAC in January

State-funded agencies could face funding cuts if compliance statements not signed, Gilmore says

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 19:34

Brian Conlan, the recently resigned chief executive of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), has confirmed he will now appear before the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Conlan declined to appear before the committee yesterday, and TDs said they were prepared to compel him to do so.

However, he contacted the clerk of the committee this evening and said he did not appear because he had just returned from abroad and needed a number of weeks to prepare.

PAC members have also been told Mr Conlan cannot get access to his home because of a “media siege”.

He will appear before the committee in January. Mr Conlan’s weekend resgination came as a surprise, and CRC chairman James Nugent said he left for personal reasons.

Mr Nugent said Mr Conlan found the attention that came with the job “intrusive”.

There will be “transparency and compliance” with public pay policy, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has insisted as the controversy over charity top-up payments continues.

He told the Dáil State-funded agencies will be required to sign a compliance statement each year.

And he warned that if an agency would not sign compliance agreements “there are consequences” in terms of the proportion of public funding that will go for the payment of salaries.

Mr Gilmore was responding to Sinn Féin allegations that the Government was trying to stay at arm’s length from the crisis and put sole responsibility on Hiqa and the HSE for dealing with the issue.

The party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald suggested the Government had an “ambivalence” to top-up payments. “After all Tánaiste, your own record isn’t terribly good on that matter.”

She asked what would the Minister for Health do directly to ensure that nobody in the HSE can be told “to get lost” by any section 38 organisation.

Mr Gilmore insisted the Government has already dealt with and continued to deal with issues related to top-up payments to senior executives in State-funded charities and agencies.

He said that when it emerged in 2012 that an employee of Tallaght Hospital received top up payments the Minister ordered a HSE audit of all State-funded agencies and the issue was now coming to a conclusion. “There are now 17 senior managers of the HSE who are pursuing this with the various agencies concerned.”

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the saddest part of all this was the children and adults who relied on the services of the CRC would potentially suffer as public donations inevitably fall of.

He said there was a growing concern that public trust and confidence in charities generally will be negatively affected by this controversy.

If people were to continue to contribute as generously as they had to charity then “they need to be assured that their hard earned money is spent on those for whom it is intended”.

He said they were still waiting for the implementation of the 2009 Charities Act which would require every charity of any significant scale to provide the source of all their income and the pay bands of all employees.

Mr Gilmore agreed it was important that public confidence was retained and renewed in charitable organisations. He said that was why the measures now being taken to deal with the issue were so important.

These agencies should adhere to stated pay policy and he said the Charities Act would come into force in January.

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