Taoiseach agrees Rehab should not have paid FG strategist for Government lobbying

Kenny and FF leader say former Rehab chief executives should attend Oireachtas committee meeting

Enda Kenny: The Government is introducing legislation on whistleblowers and lobbyists

Enda Kenny: The Government is introducing legislation on whistleblowers and lobbyists

 

Frank FlanneryRehab

Ministers when he was a director of the charity.

“I do not believe that charitable organisations should pay personnel to lobby Government Ministers or anybody else,’’ he said.

He added that the Government was open to dealing with all organisations where appropriate.

Mr Flannery recently resigned from his roles as Fine Gael strategist and Rehab director. The Taoiseach repeated his view that former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins and Mr Flannery should appear before the public accounts committee (PAC) tomorrow, as the committee had requested.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who asked if it was right and ethically correct for an organisation such as Rehab to pay one of its own directors to lobby Ministers and departments.

Rehab would have regular access to Government, said Mr Martin. He said the reaction, to put it mildly, was one of some surprise, when The Irish Times had revealed the payments.

Regular access
Bodies such as Rehab had regular access to the Government. “Department officials meet representatives of these organisations on a regular basis to discuss service plans and a range of service level agreements.

“Does the Taoiseach believe it is right that these organisations should pay directors significant sums of money for the purpose of lobbying departments and Ministers?’’

Mr Martin said a body such as Rehab should not, in any shape or form, have to pay anybody to lobby departments, and the Government should be clear in instructing such bodies that they should not pay people for lobbying.

He said Rehab had appointed Dr Eddie Molloy, an independent management consultant, to advise on rebuilding morale and repairing a damaged reputation.

He added that it was necessary for Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery to appear before the PAC, given that the issues involved were quite serious.

“Given that Mr Flannery, in particular, had unparalleled access to the Government, to you in particular. . . . I think he enjoyed a pass from the Fine Gael party to go around Leinster House unhindered . . . the issues are quite serious.”

Mr Kenny said he had no information about any dealings the Rehab organisation had with Mr Flannery, adding that his only engagements with him were purely political in terms of elections and constituencies.

The Government was introducing legislation on freedom of information, whistleblowers and lobbyists. “It is only right and proper that there be full accountability and transparency about these matters.’’

He said he had no information on whether organisations were paying personnel to meet people with political responsibility.

Very long time
Mr Kenny said that for a very long time he believed that anybody involved with charitable organisations should appear before the PAC, as it would be in the interest of charities.

“We have already agreed that when people make donations to their charity of choice, they need to feel happy that all of that money will go for the purposes for which it is intended. That is why the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, has introduced a regulator, changing the nature of the perception of charities for the good of everybody.’’