‘Rehab issues can only be answered by ex-bosses’

John McGuinness, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has insisted three issues central to the ongoing Rehab investigation can only be answered by the charity’s two former bosses.

‘Rehab issues can only be answered by ex-bosses’

Angela Kerins, who resigned as chief executive last week, and her predecessor Frank Flannery, who retired in 2006 and stepped down as board chairman last month, are both resisting pressure to give evidence to the cross-party group.

In the wake of Thursday’s PAC meeting, where members of Rehab’s board admitted Ms Kerins effectively ran the group as a “fiefdom”, Mr McGuinness said the case for the pair to come before the committee was stronger than ever.

The revelation that 92% of the charity’s Irish income comes from either state funds or charitable donations means they have “a greater obligation than ever to come before the PAC”, he said.

Mr McGuinness said Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery must explain:

- The “arrangement they had between one and other” in relation to more than €400,000 in lobbying and consultancy fees paid by Rehab to Mr Flannery. Ms Kerins sanctioned these without the approval of the board or the group’s finance director, Keith Poole.

“No one knows much about these consultancy contracts except the two of them,” Mr McGuinness said. “The substantial payments to Mr Flannery were obviously coming from taxpayers’ money, unless he wants to inform us otherwise.”

- Why these payments were sent by UK subsidiary TGB Learning instead of Rehab after Mr Flannery joined the charity’s board in 2011.

This, he said, either meant Mr Flannery was suddenly performing the same work in another country, or was an attempt to avoid the payments stopping for conflict-of-interest reasons because the ousted official had become a board member.

- Their remuneration, severance payments, pensions, and ongoing payment “needs to be explained because they are going to be funded or were being funded by the State”, he said.

“If that is not the case they need to explain why, and where this comes from.”

Mr McGuinness said the “myth” that their packages come from Rehab’s commercial enterprises was busted on Thursday when the committee heard that, of the €118m in funding from within Ireland, €95.5m is public taxes and €13.5m is charitable donations.

Further concerns have also been put forward by PAC over the noteworthy chronology of the outsourcing of coffins.

During a November 2009 board meeting, Ms Kerins recommended the predicted €100,000-a-year plan to import coffins from China and put them together in Ireland — initially put forward by a Rehab Recycling official who had no involvement in the later deal — should be outsourced to a group called Complete Eco Solutions.

The firm’s directors were Mr Flannery, Ms Kerins’ brother Joseph McCarthy, and her husband Sean Kerins.

Records revealed by Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald on Thursday show this company — which Ms Kerins told the board already existed — was only set up on December 7, 2009, more than a fortnight after she recommended it.

“We will set out the questions we believe are for them. We will invite them to come in and answer and, in the absence of them coming in, we will have to move to compellability,” Mr McGuinness said.

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