Angela Kerins to appeal finding in case against Dáil committee

State likely to appeal costs decision in case of ex-Rehab boss which are estimated at over €700,000

Former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins is appealing the finding against her in the case she took against the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins is appealing the finding against her in the case she took against the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

Former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins is appealing the finding against her in the case she took against the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The State in turn is expected to appeal the decision on costs, which were largely awarded to Ms Kerins despite her losing the case.

It will also defend the court’s decision, which is important to the functioning of committees of the Oireachtas.

The costs of the case, which ran for 10 days before a Divisional Court of the High Court, with another four days spent on pre-trial matters, were estimated at upwards of €700,000.

The court ruled that the Constitution prohibits the courts from intervening in relation to utterances made at Oireachtas committee hearings. Ms Kerins sought damages over the committee’s conduct of hearings concerning public money paid to the Rehab group.

Lodged papers

She lodged appeal papers last week and is hoping the issue will be heard directly by the Supreme Court rather than firstly by the Court of Appeal.

She is arguing that the decision effectively reverses the Re Haughey, and Maguire v Ardagh (Abbeylara) decisions of the Supreme Court , which are important to the operation of Oireactas committees.

She wants to argue that the Divisional Court was wrong to find that the immunities granted under Article 15.13 of the Constitution apply to Oireachtas committees in the same way as they apply to the Dáil and Seanad.

The Divisional Court said that it was prohibited by the Constitution from making findings against the committee over the conducts of its hearing.

The court was told that Ms Kerins had tried to take her own life such was the effect on her of how she was treated by the committee after she had agreed to appear before it on a voluntary basis.

In her appeal, she will argue that the protection of the constitutional rights of the citizen are quintessentially within the competence of the courts.

“The separation of powers doctrine under the Constitution does not recognise the existence of a lawless place in which people are empowered to do wrong without restraint,” says the document seeking that the case be heard directly by the Supreme Court.

In the High Court Ms Kerins argued that two PAC hearings, on February 27th, 2014, and April 10th, 2014 , where she was questioned about her €240,000 annual salary and other matters, amounted to a “witch hunt” against her.