Flannery paid €400k in consultancy fees by Rehab

Kerins and ex- director would not give charity permission to release salary, PAC told

Former Rehab director Frank Flannery or his company Laragh Consulting were paid more than €409,000 in professional fees for consultancy services by the group, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee has been told.

The money was paid over a seven-year period for work commissioned by former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins or two other senior executives in the organisation.

Rehab finance director Keith Poole said that Mr Flannery was paid professional fees for consultancy services including lobbying for the group after he stepped down as chief executive but while he continued as a director.

Figures given to the committee show that Mr Flannery received €40,000 in professional fees in 2007, €68,750 in 2008, €44,044 in 2009, €60,000 in 2010, €51,000 in 2011, €66,000 in 2012 and €79,950 in 2013.

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Mr Poole said he had checked with the Companies Office while preparing the 2012 accounts and discovered that Laragh Consulting had been dissolved a number of years previously.He said the subsequent payment was made directly to Mr Flannery.

The chairman of the remuneration committee of the Rehab board Declan Doyle said that no director should have been in receipt of fees and it would not happen again. Mr Poole said that the Rehab board had now resolved that in the future only vouched expenses would be paid to directors.

Mr Poole also told the Committee that in recent years two other directors or their firms had been paid by Rehab for the provisions of professional services.

He said that a former director who he identified only as a "Mr Keogh" was involved in a company which received payments for quantity surveying work. He also said another former director Gene Lambert had received payment for advice on editorial content on a publication known as Insight which was published with The Irish Times.

The Committee also heard that Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins had told Rehab that they would not provide it with permission to release details of their salary, bonuses or pension arrangements at the hearing.

Mr Doyle said the Rehab had written to both Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins asking them to allow the organisation to provide details on remuneration.

He said solicitors for Ms Kerins had written to the organisation on Wednesday “prohibiting us from disclosing her terms and conditions of employment. He said she had also withdrawn a waiver of confidentiality relating to her pay which she had previously provided. He said the letter also warned of possible legal action if her financial details were revealed.

Mr Doyle said that Mr Flannery had also refused to allow Rehab to disclose his personal financial details or pension entitlements.

Neither Mr Flannery nor Ms Kerins have attended the hearing of the Committee.

Rehab chairman Brian Kerr said it would have been better if they could have seen a way to attend.

Seven other members of the Rehab senior management team have agreed to provide details of their salaries.

These figures show the director of training, employment and education receives € 174,000.

Earlier the chairman committee described a solicitor’s letter sent by Mr Flannery as “a step too far”.

John McGuinness said that it will apply to compel Mr Flannery to appear before the committee if he maintains his position that he will not attend a hearing of it.

Mr McGuinness was speaking ahead of this morning’s meeting of the committee which is discussing, among other things, executive pay and remuneration policy at Rehab, the charity for people with disability that is in receipt of substantial State funding.

Ms Kerins, who stood down from her position last month, has also indicated this week she would not be attending today’s hearing. The committee was informed that Ms Kerins is unwell and, on medical advice, was not in a position to attend.

Mr McGuinness told RTÉ this morning that he expects Ms Kerins to appear before the committee at a later date.

In the letter sent by her legal representatives, it was argued it was unfair that on her last appearance before the committee, she had been questioned for seven hours with only one short break. It also said she had inadvertently told the Committee that her salary had not been reduced this year, when in fact it had been reduced.

The Carlow-Kilkenny Deputy said this morning that the solicitor’s letter received by the committee on behalf of Mr Flannery was “nothing short of contemptible”. Among other points raised, Mr Flannery asserted his rights as a private citizen and also criticised the absence of specific questions to be addressed before his appearance,

This is seemingly a reference to the requirement for public inquiries of this type to adhere to fair procedures and to afford natural justice and specific rules in this regard were laid down in a case arising from the Arms Trial in the early 1970s (surrounding allegations of a private plot within the then Fianna Fáil cabinet to import arms to Northern Ireland).

Following the receipt of the letters from Mr Flannery and Ms Kerins yesterday, the PAC met in emergency session last night and committee clerk Ted McEnery wrote to both parties, reserving the right to hear evidence from them in the future.

Today’s hearing will hear evidence from senior management at Rehab, including its chairman Brian Kerr. It is not known if further details of Mr Flannery’s and Ms Kerin’s remuneration agreements will be disclosed.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times