Rehab admits to serious failings in stewardship

Board engages management consultant to fundamentally review operations

Angela Kerins, former Rehab chief executive. Photograph: Eric Luke

Angela Kerins, former Rehab chief executive. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Rehab board has acknowledged serious failings in its stewardship of the disability body, as the Public Accounts Committee urged former chiefs Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery to attend a hearing tomorrow.

Rehab chairman Brian Kerr wrote last week to Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery asking whether they will go before the Dáil committee, but neither has replied.

Ms Kerins resigned after months of controversy last week and Mr Flannery resigned from the Rehab board last month.

The group, which has charitable status, has been heavily criticised across the political spectrum for its slow and partial response to questions about its internal affairs. It receives €82 million a year from the State. In a letter yesterday, to staff, Mr Kerr said Rehab’s reputation has been “seriously damaged” by recent events.

The board has engaged management consultant Dr Eddie Molloy to conduct a fundamental review of Rehab’s operations, structures and governance. All directors remain in place, but Mr Kerr said Rehab was committed to doing what was needed, including board changes, to recover confidence.

PAC chairman John McGuinness, a Fianna Fáil TD, welcomed the move, saying the committee will consider changes necessary to ensure there is adequate transparency, accountability and oversight at Rehab.

“Our expectation is that Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery will attend the meeting, along with the chief financial officer of the Rehab Group and members of the remuneration committee,” Mr McGuinness said.

The PAC has questions about Ms Kerins’s pay and bonuses, Mr Flannery’s pension, and business, in 2010, between Rehab and a company owned by Ms Kerins’s husband, her brother and Mr Flannery.

Also in question is Mr Flannery’s professional lobbying of the Government for Rehab at a time when he had a senior political role in Fine Gael.

In his letter, Mr Kerr said the board recognised its response to demands for information has been inadequate.

He attributed this to “legal constraints” on the disclosure of information about the terms and conditions of senior Rehab figures and said its internal structures were “not adequate” to manage a challenging and changing situation.

“We recognise that, as a board, we have not exercised strict and appropriate oversight of certain issues which have come to public attention in recent weeks,” he said.

“The board’s priority now is to initiate a programme of transformation. . . which will allow us to candidly confront the issues . . . rebuild the reputation, staff morale and effectiveness of the organisation.”

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris said such work must not be viewed as a fait accompli.