Rehab under pressure to confirm Kerins attendance at PAC

Charity faces cross-party demands over committee hearing next week

 Angela Kerins: to step down as Rehab chief executive tomorrow. File  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Angela Kerins: to step down as Rehab chief executive tomorrow. File Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 12:11

Rehab is facing cross-party demands within the Public Accounts Committee to definitively state today whether its outgoing chief Angela Kerins, former director Frank Flannery and senior board figures will attend a public hearing next Thursday.

At the regular meeting of the PAC in Leinster House, members pointed out that the committee has received nothing formal directly from the disability organisation in relation to the hearing next week.

Attention was also drawn to the Rehab board, which has stayed in the background for week as the controversy escalated.

In addition to Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery, the committee also wants to see Rehab chairman Brian Kerr, director of finance Keith Poole and board remuneration panel members Declan Doyle, Huge Governey and Liam Hogan.

While Rehab has stated publicly that all invitees will indeed attend next week, the board was accused by committee member, Independent TD Shane Ross of playing “cat and mouse” with the PAC.

“Let’s forgot about the high-profile people. What’s the board doing? Haven’t we asked the remuneration committee in?” said Mr Ross. “They’re also playing this game of not telling us as well, and other members of the board.”

The meeting next week was scheduled after several major questions were left unanswered when Ms Kerins’ appeared at the PAC for seven hours in February.

Ms Kerins resigned yesterday and finishes her work at Rehab tomorrow. Mr Flannery resigned his directorship last month, and a senior role in Fine Gael.

However, PAC chairman John McGuinness and other committee members said recent resignations from Rehab changed nothing.

“It has been made clear to them from the last meeting as to what information is outstanding so there is no doubt of that,” said Mr McGuinness, a Fianna Fáil TD. “So it has been made to clear to them as to who should attend. And while we’re interested in the information it has to come as you’ve said ... from certain individuals. They have to here to tell us.”

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said the committee expected all invited to attend, including Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery. “Can I suggest that we very urgently make contact with them again ... and ask them without any further delay to confirm that they will in fact be in attendance next Thursday.”

However, Fine Gael TD John Deasy said the board was well aware of the information sought . “By people non-attending, I don’t think that the board should be let off the hook with regard to information that we’ve asked for,” Mr Deasy said. “I’m less interested in the individuals. I don’t believe that members of the board don’t kinow all the information so, at the very least, this committee needs to make that clear to them.”

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris said it would be reasonable to expect finality now as to who was coming to the commtitee. “We were told by Mr Flannery in correspondence with this committe that the reason he didn’t come last time was that he wasn’t formally invited,” said Mr Harris .

“He’s received copious amounts of emails back and forwards. He said in one email that he would be willing to attend but he wanted to understand what he was coming in to talk about. I don’t think he can be in any doubt about that now.”