The Dáil Public Accounts Committee has been refused permission to compel former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery to appear before it after both previously declined.
However, the PAC has been given the green light to bring three people before it in relation to the controversial National Health and Local Authority Levy Fund, an account into which the Comptroller and Auditor General found €4m in State money was paid and which was run by members of Siptu.
The Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) met yesterday evening to consider PAC applications for powers to compel witnesses and documents in relation to both Rehab and the fund run by the Siptu officials to be brought before it.
The CPP said it took independent legal advice from a senior counsel as well as the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor within the Oireachtas in coming to its decisions.
The CPP said it could not unreasonably refuse a request that “is in compliance with the requirements of the Act, nor could it grant compellability powers where it would not be lawful to do so”.
“It follows that the CPP cannot act arbitrarily or make a decision based on political considerations.”
Therefore it said it was giving its consent to PAC to issue directions in relation to three witnesses who had an involvement in the operation of the National Health and Local Authority Levy Fund. Those witnesses include then senior Siptu official Matt Merrigan and Jack Kelly, a member of Siptu’s national executive who ran the fund. It also consented to the issuing of directions in respect of a report prepared by Grant Thornton into the operation of the fund.
In relation to the Rehab application, the CPP declined, saying it formed the view, based on strong legal advice, that the PAC is only empowered to proceed with the examination of an account audited or report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General after it is presented to the Dáil.
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