By Fiachra Ó CionnaithIrish Examiner Political Correspondent
The crisis-hit disability charity Rehab’s fundraising and lotteries wing is set to be wound up and replaced with a new body as part of a major review of the "activities" to help restore the group’s damaged image.
The Irish Examiner understands that the move will take place over the coming weeks alongside further redundancy plans for backroom officials and senior managers, which is likely to see as many as 40 people leave their roles.
Details provided to this newspaper and confirmed by the charity last night show the new board of Rehab — which was brought in after a year of controversy engulfed the group — made the decision to reform the system in recent days.
They told staff of the changes on the horizon — including an end to some “lotteries activity” from early next year and a review of what fundraising is benefiting service users — earlier this week, with a full review of the services now under way.
A spokesperson confirmed: “A decision has been made to cease some of Rehab’s fundraising and lotteries activity from early next year.
“This is to ensure fundraising is run in as efficient and effective a manner as possible, particularly against a challenging budgetary back-drop for 2015.
“Fundraising is crucial to Rehab as it supports essential activities that are not funded in other ways.
“[They include] accessible transport, capital projects, additional therapeutic supports, research and development, individual and group advocacy activities, administration, and governance.”
The imminent changes to Rehab’s fundraising and lotteries wing comes after significant controversy over how much benefit the initiatives have been to service users dependent on the charity.
The issue came to public prominence during the high-profile Dáil Public Accounts Committee meetings with the former Rehab chief executive, Angela Kerins, earlier this year.
In particular, concern was raised in January when the then justice minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil that Rehab made a miniscule €9,452 from scratch card sales worth almost €4m in 2010 — representing just a 1% profit.
At the time Mr Shatter also said a State audit found during the same year Rehab made just €548,000 from bingo sales of €3.19m, and that its gross lottery sales of almost €7.2m yielded a net profit of just €558,000.
Meanwhile, the charity’s new board is also planning to remove 40 people as part of a major redundancy package within the group.
The new chairman, Sean Egan, told staff that a “consultation process” was now under way with the individuals involved.
The redundancy scheme is expected to take a number of months and will not target frontline staff, with approximately seven people already being made redundant in the group’s Limerick branch in recent weeks.
The moves — which come after the amount of charitable donations given to Rehab fell by €600,000 this year — come as Ms Kerins, who resigned from her position with Rehab in April, mounts a legal action against the PAC over claims that she was unfairly treated by the body.
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