‘Important issue overlooked’ in challenge

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was entitled to know if the public was getting value for “huge” sums of public money paid to the Rehab Group, the High Court has been told.

That “important” issue has been “overlooked” in the legal challenge by former Rehab Group chief executive Angela Kerins over PAC’s hearings concerning those payments, said counsel Paul Gallagher.

There appeared to be a suggestion there could be no inquiry into what happens to public funds once they have been paid out by the HSE, but PAC was entitled to assess if the HSE was getting value for money, he said. The basis on which the HSE paid those monies provides for monitoring and information, including information on salaries, and PAC was entitled to monitor what the HSE was doing.

Because a high proportion of the expenses of Rehab and other bodies went on salaries, those were also relevant to an inquiry into the HSE’s use of money, said Mr Gallagher. While there may be an argument as to “how deep you go”, the matter was “certainly relevant”.

Asked by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan about relevance of questions from PAC members on whether Ms Kerins had any involvement with her husband in a coffin business or if she had damaged Rehab, Mr Gallagher said governance issues were involved and he would address such matters later.

A “very deliberate” decision was made by Ms Kerins to attend a PAC hearing on February 27, 2014, which was viewed as an opportunity to deal with matters already in the public domain and advance Rehab’s views in that regard, he said.

Mr Gallagher was continuing his arguments on behalf of PAC in the continuing hearing over the committee’s jurisdiction to conduct two hearings on February 27 and April 10, 2014.

The hearing was scheduled to conclude yesterday but has been adjourned to resume on October 4.


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