Rehab fundraising drops by €600k

Funds raised for the disability charity, Rehab, have dropped by around €600,000 this year after a string of controversies surrounding how money was spent at the agency.

The new chairman, Sean Egan, who is standing in as chief executive until a replacement is found for Angela Kerins, said details of where money given by the public goes to will be “very explicit” in the future.

He was speaking after all but three of its 16 board members were replaced in a shake up of the charity’s commercial organisation announced at its annual general meeting on Monday.

Mr Egan told Newstalk Radio yesterday that corporate governance in Rehab in the past “wasn’t where we would like to have it now”.

The previous board had been “too long together” he said and the highest standards must be expected of the charity in the future.

He said he “wouldn’t dream of saying no” if called to appear before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the same way as Ms Kerins and her predecessor, Frank Flannery, did earlier this year.

“My personal view is that Rehab receives a lot of money from the State and we have to be accountable. And as chairman I am committed to making this more transparent,” he said.

“The more information that is out there, the fewer questions there will be. Would I go before the PAC in the future, yes I would. I wouldn’t dream of saying no,” he said.

Rehab is currently recruiting a replacement for Ms Kerins. The new CEO will receive a remuneration package worth €100,000 less than the €240,000 a year she earned.

Mr Egan said the process is “well advanced with strong candidates emerging” and they hope to be in a position to make an announcement in early October.

Ms Kerins who retired early from the charity in April, has issued High Court proceedings against the PAC

She is seeking damages for what she claims is personal injury and the loss of her €240,000-a-year-job.

She also claims her constitutional rights breached as a result of the conduct of the committee.

The committee have been seeking answers on a number of issues including pay and pension arrangements for Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery. The committee also wants to ask the former CEOs about €400,000 in lobbying and consultancy fees paid by Rehab to Mr Flannery after his resignation as CEO, and approved by Ms Kerins.

The new board includes Stan McHugh, the former CEO of FETAC; David Went, 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.

Frontline staff have expressed disappointment that there was not a full clear out of the board and that it will not include a staff representative. “There can’t be transformation if everything stays the same,” said Siptu’s Joseph O’Shea, who represents all staff at Rehab.

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