PAC members struggle to believe former CRC chief executive

Committee member Shane Ross says he is ‘gobsmacked’ by the whole affair

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, arriving for a committee meeting at Leinster House yesterday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, arriving for a committee meeting at Leinster House yesterday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Members of the Public Accounts Committee expressed their utter disbelief at the evidence given by the CRC’s former chief executive Brian Conlan yesterday.

Mr Conlan said he had not seen the €700,000 retirement package created for his predecessor Paul Kiely prior to seeing the letter from the HSE auditor to the committee yesterday morning.“I was surprised as anyone.”

But the committee were dubious about Mr Conlan’s lack of awareness to what was going on.

Committee member Shane Ross said he was “gobsmacked” by the whole affair. “I simply don’t believe you,” said the Independent TD.

Mr Conlan told the committee he found out about Mr Kiely’s resignation on March 26th, the day of the special board meeting.

However, when the minutes were presented, it stated he was one of three who already had a meeting with a recruitment agency about replacing the chief executive and Mr Conlan had been nominated to be part of the recruitment sub-committee before that date.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said the hearing deserved the “respect” of hearing truthful answers. “It bothers me a lot that you have to be pressed to give full information on basic things,” she said. “I find all of this dodgy.”

Ms McDonald said she had heard what sounded like “downright lies” from Mr Conlan during the hearing.

Ms McDonald said Mr Conlans’ credibility was “pretty much shot here today”.

“I admit I got a few things wrong,” said Mr Conlan.

Fine Gael TD Kieran O’ Donnell said the evidence Mr Conlan had given was an “affront” to the committee and tax payers. He said the money taken from the charity “looks like it was used as a slush fund”.

Mr O’ Donnell said he could not believe Mr Conlan’s testimony that he “was not aware” that half of the donations collected in the year, €700,000, was paid to Paul Kiely. “€700,000 is not an adjustment, it is a crazy figure,” he said.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said he found what Mr Conlan was saying “unbelievable”. “It is shameful what went on here,” he said. “You’re economic with the truth here, with the facts.”

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris said his testimony lacked credibility. “A man blindfolded on a galloping horse would have been aware of was going on in the CRC,” he said.