Rehab staff: Clean slate should have been offered

Staff at the disability charity Rehab said they are disappointed that a "clean slate wasn’t offered" after a shake up of the board which saw all but three of its 16 members replaced.

Some 13 board members were announced at its AGM yesterday, following a series of controversies surrounding pay and governance.

The new members are drawn from the charity, public, and private sectors and will receive no remuneration for their work, although they can claim vouched expenses.

Their appointment follows a root and branch review of the organisation, and represents a “milestone” in the “transformation process” it is going through, according to its chairman, Seán Egan. But frontline staff said the entire board should have been replaced and it was a “missed opportunity” not to appoint a staff representative to the board.

They also criticised the lack of change at senior management level beyond the resignation of CEO Angela Kerins in April.

“There can’t be transformation if everything stays the same,” said Siptu’s Joseph O’Shea who represents all staff, including disability workers, at Rehab.

“There has been some tweaking of the management team and rearranging of responsibility. But all the senior people that were there under Angela Kerins are there now. Her legacy, in the form of her appointees, is still there.”

The new board includes Stan McHugh, the former CEO of Fetac; David Went, the former chairman of The Irish Times; Niamh Hyland, a senior counsel and mother of a child with special needs; Assumpta Kelly, an administrative officer with Meath County Council and the mother of a teenager with a learning difficulty; and psychologist Maeve Martin.

They were recruited after the board positions were publicly advertised. Previously it had been the practice of board members to nominate replacements.

Mr O’Shea said there is concern among staff that two members and a trustee from the previous board are being kept. “It is disappointing that a clean slate wasn’t offered or an explanation given for their continuation on the board. Continuity is certainly not something that is coveted by staff.”

Ms Kerins and her predecessor, Frank Flannery, have clashed with the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee over the past year. They are resisting attempts by the committee to grill them about €400,000 in lobbying and consultancy fees paid by Rehab to Mr Flannery after his resignation as CEO, and approved by Ms Kerins.

Rehab expects to fill the role of CEO by next month. The salary will be €140,000 — a €100,000 drop on that of Ms Kerins.

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