Acting head of CRC operations Joanne Hurley still receiving top-up
Dáil Public Accounts Committee hears four staff members at Central Remedial Clinic still receiving the payments
Central Remedial Clinic acting chief executive Jim Nugent said the CRC is in a “transition period” in which existing contracts in excess of the HSE scales must be honoured. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Four senior members of staff at the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) are still in receipt of salary top-up payments, including the acting head of operations, it emerged at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee yesterday.
The committee was told that the top-ups are being phased out and the number of people getting additional payments has fallen since 2009. Eleven people were getting extra payments four years ago.
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Three people who are on basic salaries of €79,000 in line with HSE recommendations are each getting top-ups of €32,357 from the CRC.
These include Joanne Hurley, the manager of client services, who has been appointed acting head of operations since former chief executive Brian Conlan resigned at the weekend.
CRC chairman James Nugent is acting chief executive, but Ms Hurley is effectively in charge of day-to-day business until a new chief executive is appointed.
Mr Nugent told the committee yesterday that he did not have the time to be hands-on, and Ms Hurley was the most senior member of the management team. He described her as the “most obvious choice”.
Labour TD Gerald Nash said putting someone in receipt of a top-up in charge of the organisation in the middle of the current controversy showed that the CRC had not learned any lessons.
As well as Ms Hurley, figures from April 2012 given to the committee showed that an administrator and HR manager were also getting €32,357 in top-ups in addition to a HSE-approved salary of €79,000. An IT manager, also on an approved salary of €79,000, was getting a €37,841 top-up. Another senior manager, the medical director, has a salary of €118,703 but is not getting any top-up.
David Martin, a CRC director, told the committee that the top-ups still in existence constituted a “legal minefield”.
Before his retirement, former chief executive Paul Kiely was on a €116,000 top-up, as well as a €19,000 allowance, from the CRC. This was in addition to his €106,900 State salary.
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the total level of top-ups in 2012 came to almost €280,000, and said this was a sizeable amount of the €1.4 million taken in annually in charitable donations.
Mr Martin said the need for top-ups arose in 2009, when the HSE changed its salary ceilings. Since some staff had existing contracts which gave them wages in excess of the HSE levels, top-ups had to be given to honour these contracts.
Mr Kiely said he was paid by the CRC, and the decision to honour the contracts was made by the board.
Mr Nugent said the CRC is in a “transition period” in which existing contracts in excess of the HSE scales must be honoured, while new recruits are adhering to the wage limits. As people retire or leave the organisation, the entire staff of the CRC will eventually be fully compliant with pay policy, Mr Nugent said.
He also said the HSE called the top-up arrangements “irregular” but he wasn’t sure what was meant by this.
The HSE was also criticised by Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness and Waterford TD John Deasy for its approach to the CRC. Mr McGuinness said the HSE was fully aware in 2009 of the top-ups being paid but did nothing about it and was “as guilty” as the CRC.