€669k a year to phantom fund at Mater

The Central Remedial Clinic is paying €669,000 a year into a “phantom” Mater Hospital pension fund officials believe should have ended a decade ago.

The situation was detailed during the latest day of revelations for those dependent on the under-fire disability group.

During a five-hour Dáil grilling, CRC officials revealed the group’s ex-CEO received a €200,000 retirement lump sum from charitable donations and that one-sixth of all donations are spent on top-ups for just a handful of staff.

However, TDs and HSE personnel were left baffled after it emerged the disability group is also paying a small fortune to the Mater Hospital every year for a pension fund that officially stopped a decade ago.

According to details revealed at the public accounts committee, the CRC has paid out more than €6m to the Mater since the early 2000s to cover 181 workers who come under the health service’s voluntary hospital superannuation scheme.

Ex-CRC chief executive Paul Kiely told the cross-party group this is because “the Mater acts on behalf of the CRC as an agent in the operation of the [pension] scheme and charges a fee of around 10%-13% of relevant gross salaries, which amounted to €669,000”.

The arrangement began in the mid-1970s, when the Department of Health did not recognise the CRC as a hospital, in order to allow staff at the facility to access the pension fund.

However, Mr Kiely said despite the fact the Department of Health took over the voluntary hospital’s superannuation scheme a decade ago, the deal is still officially in operation.

While the Mater Hospital insisted the system is still in place, the recently retired CRC official said: “There is no fund.”

The latest mystery to hit the CRC finances — which Independent TD Shane Ross said was “outrageous” and a “phantom fund” — was rejected by the Mater last night. A hospital spokesperson said the facility insisted the money paid to it by the CRC is an “employer contribution” used to cover “liability for pension payments”.

Meanwhile, the PAC hearing also heard a €200,000 tax-free lump sum was paid out of charitable donations to Mr Kiely when he retired from his already lavishly-paid position in June.

The CRC official, who stood down as a director as the scandal surrounding the disability group grew last week, admitted the sum was paid using the clinic’s charitable arm, Friends and Supporters of the CRC.

While Mr Kiely also got top-up payments amounting to over €116,000 from the charity, more than doubling his €106,000 HSE salary, and is entitled to a €98,000-a-year pension, his ex-colleague and CRC acting chief executive Jim Nugent said “no one is a winner in this”.

It also emerged that an average of €1 in every €6 donated to the charity in recent years has gone towards top-ups to Mr Kiely and four other staff members at the disability service provider.

A total of €271,057 was paid to five staff members in recent years, to supplement their taxpayer-funded pay from the HSE, out of a yearly average of €1.5m donated to its charity arm.

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PAC chief 'surprised' by timing of hospital top-ups statementPAC chief 'surprised' by timing of hospital top-ups statement


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