A former Fianna Fáil cabinet minister has said he will not resign from the board of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) over revelations that public donations were used to top up the salaries of senior executives at the charity.
Former chief whip and minister for defence Vincent Brady last night became the first CRC board member to comment on the controversy since it erupted last week.
He said the controversy over the top-up payments had been “hijacked” by politicians.
Last Friday, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn called on the CRC board to step down after it confirmed funds raised by the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic had been used to pay any additional salary amounts to senior executives over the Department of Health’s consolidated pay scales.
Mr Brady said the CRC board “had never sanctioned” additional payments for any of its staff but conceded the scandal had the ability to damage fundraising at the charity.
Internal Department of Health files obtained by this newspaper a fortnight ago revealed that former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely received an additional salary of almost €117,000, as well as an allowance of €19,000, on top of his HSE-funded pay of €106,000.
The files showed a number of other CRC senior executives got additional payments of more than €30,000 each.
Since issuing a brief statement last week, neither the board nor management at the CRC has answered questions on the controversy.
However, last night Mr Brady said: “The only comment I would make is that we as the board certainly have never sanctioned top-ups or whatever you would like to call them for any staff.
“I think it’s ironic that a number of Ministers are calling for the board to resign when they were the very first to breach the pay levels themselves [for various advisers and consultants] and they didn’t give any particular reasons for doing do.
“The board wouldn’t give any consideration to that. These are all political stunts and this is a political football. I can only speak for myself and I wouldn’t give it any consideration. This is a political football and they are being political for obvious reasons.”
Mr Brady said he expected the chairman of the board would be issuing a full statement on the CRC's position within the next 48 hours. He added: "I am disappointed that this has been hijacked by politicians."
Mr Brady said he was not aware of any top-ups to the pensions of the former senior personnel including chief executive Paul Kiely, who retired last year. He said that if the controversy had damaged the charity’s ability to collect funds publicly it would be a matter of regret.
Meanwhile, The Irish Times has also learned that in mid-2011 the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform became aware of the chief executive of a voluntary State-funded hospital being in receipt of "a second salary" from a research institute.
The HSE wrote to hospitals and agencies in September 2011 stating that chief executives could not receive additional remuneration for work in any trade, sectoral body or association without the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform’s consent.