PAC suffers reversal in bid to compel Flannery and Kerins

Oversight committee rejects PAC request for order forcing ex-Rehab pair before hearing

Decision by Committee on Procedure and Privileges will be a boost to Frank Flannery and Angela Kerins. Photograph: Collins

Decision by Committee on Procedure and Privileges will be a boost to Frank Flannery and Angela Kerins. Photograph: Collins

Fri, Jun 20, 2014, 01:00

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was last night dealt a blow to its campaign to compel former Rehab leaders Angele Kerins and Frank Flannery to attend an opening hearing of the committee.

In a statement last night, a separate Dáil committee which sets the ground rules for the House rejected the PAC’s initial application for an order compelling Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery to appear before it.

The PAC door was not fully shut by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP),which oversees the proceedings of the House. Its intervention, however, provides a significant boost to Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery.

Careful consideration The CPP, on which the Government has

a majority, said that it gave “careful and detailed consideration” to the PAC’s submissions under the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act.

“Under the 2013 Act, it is necessary for CPP to give its consent to a committee which wishes to issue directions to compel witnesses and evidence,” the CPP noted. “However, the relevant submissions lacked sufficient detail to enable CPP to discharge properly its obligations under the 2013 Act and Standing Orders.”

Accordingly, the CPP it had written to the PAC seeking further information from it in respect of its application.

“It is now a matter for the PAC to provide the necessary information to enable CPP to make a determination on the request in accordance with the legislation and Standing Orders.”

Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery have objected in strong terms to their treatment by the Public Accounts Committee, which has been asking questions for several months about her pay and his pension.

The PAC’s scrutiny of Rehab ultimately led to Ms Kerin’s resignation as chief executive.

Scrutiny of Rehab She has argued the

committee has no jurisdiction over Rehab as its accounts are not audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General. This was grounds for the CPP not to grant a compellability direction, she has argued.

The PAC’s scrutiny of Rehab also led to Mr Flannery’s resignation from the Rehab board and to his departure from a high-level but unpaid political position in Fine Gael.

As Rehab chief executive for many years, Mr Flannery was the driving force behind its expansion.

He has written to the PAC asking it to address how to repair alleged damage to his public image and argued that it has strayed beyond its legal limit.