Rehab appoints new board following revelations over executive pay

Organisation says it cannot disclose pay or pensions of former chiefs for legal reasons

 Angela Kerins, former  chief executive of Rehab:    She and Frank Flannery threatened legal action to prevent details of their remuneration being discussed at the Public Accounts Committee. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Angela Kerins, former chief executive of Rehab: She and Frank Flannery threatened legal action to prevent details of their remuneration being discussed at the Public Accounts Committee. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The Rehab Group has appointed a new board in a move aimed at improving oversight and rebuilding its battered reputation following controversy over high executive pay. However the disability group says it cannot release further details of the pay or pension arrangements of former chief executives Angela Kerins or Frank Flannery for legal reasons.

Ms Kerins got a €240,000 salary before her resignation, and there was controversy over €400,000 in consultancy fees paid to former board member Mr Flannery over seven years.

Following an annual general meeting yesterday, Rehab’s acting chief executive Seán Egan announced that all but three members of its 16-person board had been replaced. He acknowledged that recent controversies highlighted aspects of Rehab’s management which “did not meet the high standards which the public rightfully expects of a charitable organisation”.

He said the new board and incoming chief executive would work hard to restore public confidence and rebuild public trust in the group. The board contains 13 new members from the public, private and charitable sector. Many have experience – personally or among family members – of disability or rehabilitation.

They were appointed following an advertised recruitment process, overseen by a special board whose members included charity sector leaders and existing board members. Their positions are voluntary and unpaid. The group has also formally committed itself to the adoption of fundraising and governance codes, along with a best-practice accountancy rules for charities from this year on.

This will include details in its annual accounts of how many staff members are paid more than €70,000, in bands of €10,000. It will also include the chief executive’s salary.

The process to appoint a new chief executive is under way and is due to be announced in October. The candidate is likely to receive a salary of about €140,000, some €100,000 less than Ms Kerins received in the year before her departure.

The Public Accounts Committee – which unsuccessfully sought to compel Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery to appear before it – had maintained there were unanswered questions about past salaries and bonus payments, along with Mr Flannery’s pension and business dealings with the group. Both individuals threatened legal action to prevent details of their remuneration being discussed at the committee, which investigated the organisation’s finances earlier this year.

The controversy ultimately led to Ms Kerin’s resignation as chief executive and prompted Mr Flannery’s exit from the board and a high-ranking political post with Fine Gael.

The organisation, which is heavily reliant on State funding, will hope the new moves will dispel lingering political controversy over the organisation.

Mr Egan said the group had begun a programme of reform which would bring about a much more transparent organisation. “Many thousands of people with disabilities, people with mental-health difficulties, older people and people who are distant from the labour market rely on Rehab to provide them with the best possible services,” he said. “I look forward to working with the new board, a new chief executive and all of our people to achieve that goal.”

Most of the previous board – including its chairman Brian Kerr – have now stood down or retired.

Following the departure of Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery, the board last April acknowledged there were grave failings in its oversight of the disability charity.

The moves to appoint a new board and chief executive mirror actions by the Central Remedial Clinic, which has also tried to rebuild public trust following a series of damaging revelations over pay and pensions at the organisation.