PAC members face being cross-examined by Kerins

Former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins may apply to cross-examine members of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee in her forthcoming action over its conduct of public hearings concerning the handling of State payments to the charity, the Court of Appeal has heard.

The three-judge appeals court has reserved judgment on the PAC’s appeal against various High Court orders directing it to give certain documents to Ms Kerins for her action alleging a “witchhunt” against her by the committee.

In her action, Ms Kerins wants orders and damages on foot of claims the PAC conducted itself unlawfully, showed bias towards her, acted outside its remit, and was guilty of misfeasance in public office. She claims its action caused her distress and injury to her health.

The PAC denies her claims and maintains it was entitled to question Ms Kerins in circumstances where 81% of the charity’s income in Ireland was provided by the State.

The committee has a “vital role” in overseeing public expenditure and cannot be sued for damages over matters said under privilege, Paul Gallagher, counsel for the PAC, said in presenting its appeal, adding that it does not intend to issue any report involving any findings concerning an individual.

The appeals court heardthat Ms Kerins appeared for seven hours before the committee on February 27, 2014. Her lawyers said she could not attend a resumed hearing on April 10, 2014, due to ill health.

She later sued for various orders including restraining the committee pursuing further examination of Rehab’s finances insofar as they relate to her former employment.

Opposing the appeal, John Rogers, for Ms Kerins, said she was invited by the PAC, via a letter, to appear before it but what happened during her appearance involved an excess of the committee’s jurisdiction and powers.


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