PAC chairman calls on Rehab to release salary details

Thursday 27 February 2014 21.39
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Angela Kerins said she was a private citizen and did not intend to provide more information on her salary
Angela Kerins said she was a private citizen and did not intend to provide more information on her salary
Rehab Chief Executive Angela Kerins said the executives were appearing on a voluntary basis
Rehab Chief Executive Angela Kerins said the executives were appearing on a voluntary basis

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has called on the Rehab Group to release the details of the pay of senior staff within days.

John McGuinness said this was important given the information was with the Health Service Executive and now with the clerk of the PAC.

He said it had been necessary to drag information from Rehab and get it into the public domain and that the process could have been much easier.

"What hasn't helped is the lead up to this, and dragging that information into the public domain", he said.

The PAC tonight said it is seeking legal advice on the publication of pay details of senior Rehab staff, after the committee was given the information today by the HSE, due to data protection issues.

Mr McGuinness earlier told the Rehab witnesses to "clear up" matters regarding any connection the charity may have had with the company Eco Solutions, with which former CEO of Rehab Frank Flannery and Joseph McCarthy, a brother of current Rehab CEO Angela Kerins, were involved.

However, the chairman described today's hearing as constructive and said excellent information was provided.

The meeting ended after almost seven hours.

During the hearing, Ms Kerins told the PAC that Rehab is not a State-run organisation and staff are not public servants.

Ms Kerins told the committee that all of the Rehab Group management team have been paid at least 20% below the current market median for total pay for some years.

She was asked by Fine Gael Deputy Kieran O'Donnell about the criteria surrounding bonuses.

Ms Kerins said her contract can provide a bonus of up to 30-35% of her salary but she has never received that.

Mr O'Donnell also asked how "taking 83% of tax payers' money and salary in excess of public pay guidelines" could be reconciled.

Ms Kerins said: "We don't take money from the State, we deliver €83m worth of services to the State."

She said it would be "narrow and misleading" to compare Rehab to a normal charity.

Ms Kerins told the committee that Rehab aims to reveal the salaries of its senior management and its CEO from this year on.

She said Rehab is looking at its options regarding the disclosure of remuneration packages.

She said: "Our aim is 2014 onwards."

She added: "There's a genuine desire to do this and we'd like to do that this year."

She was responding to Fine Gael TD Simon Harris.

Ms Kerins said she wished she had revealed details of her salary earlier.

She said that there were issues the board needed to address, in relation to data protection, adding that they wanted to be sure it was "accurate and relative".

She was responding to Labour's Robert Dowds, who asked about the public perception of Rehab over the past number of weeks.

However she said information in relation to the Charity Lottery Fund in the media was "incorrect" and has had an impact.

Mr Dowds as her if she thought there was an obligation on senior staff to be paid "at a moral level rather than a high-end level".

Ms Kerins pointed out that she donates money to charity.

She said in other charities senior salaries of €80-90,000 are paid.

"Some people think they're too high", she said. "Some charities do and others do not."

CEO challenged over pay

Earlier, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald challenged Ms Kerins over her pay being more than the Taoiseach and the US President.

Ms Kerins said she was a private citizen, not paid by the taxpayer and does not intend to provide any further information on her personal pay.

Ms McDonald had asked her why her salary increased by €6,000 to €240,000 in the most recent figures on her salary.

She also asked Ms Kerins about the reduction in the provision of service fees which led to a number of employees going to the Labour Court.

Ms Kerins pointed out that that was resolved in the Labour Court in 2012.

Ms McDonald put it to the Rehab CEO that she was happy to recognise and align herself with public pay policy in front of the Labour Court and while in respect of her own salary, she took "a hard line view" that she was not "linked to the public service".

Ms Kerins reiterated what she said in her opening statement that Rehab has "independent assessment of remuneration of the group management team within the Rehab group".

Ms Kerins also said there have been false impressions in the media that substantial Rehab funds were being used for lobbying and PR.

Health Service Executive Director General Tony O' Brien told the PAC that it paid over €50m a year to two Rehab companies, Rehabcare and the National Learning Network (NLN).

He said these companies were discharging their roles to an acceptable standard, in terms of service delivery, quality and cost effectiveness.

Ms Kerins told the PAC she felt it was reasonable for Rehab's lawyers to ask in advance about the parameters of the committee's hearing.

She was responding to a question from Ms McDonald, who suggested that Ms Kerins had stubbornly and publicly sought to say to the committee that it should not meddle or ask questions about its commercial sector.

Earlier, the Rehab Group denied that it sent a solicitor's letter to the PAC pointing out that its remit did not extend to the salary of Ms Kerins.

A spokesman said the legal communication to the committee was made last night by the parliamentary legal adviser, following a telephone conversation yesterday afternoon between the legal adviser and lawyers for Rehab.

Mr O'Brien told PAC that Rehabcare receives €40m for the provision of a wide range of services, including residential support, day care, home support and respite beds.

A further €13.5m is paid to NLN to provide over 1,000 rehabilitation places.

The HSE hopes to have a report on senior managers' salaries in Section 39 agencies by the end of March.

Mr O'Brien told the committee that since 2013 all these agencies with service arrangements must complete a template setting out details of pay for senior managers, Grade 8 and above.

Department of Justice Secretary General Brian Purcell told the PAC that since the introduction of the Charitable Lotteries Scheme in 1997, payments of almost €86m have been made to the Rehab Group.

This is out of a total of €124m paid out under the scheme to help the promoters of 19 private charitable lotteries.

Mr Purcell said the scheme is to be phased out completely by 2015, partly because the department believes it does not represent an efficient use of funds.

Kerins salary obscene - Shane Ross

A member of the Public Accounts Committee has described this morning's session of the meeting with the Rehab CEO as unsatisfactory.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, independent TD Shane Ross said Rehab's legal advisers had attempted to set the agenda for the meeting by laying out parameters for what would be discussed.

He also said it was unsatisfactory because the people who had been asked to appear, Mr Flannery and the members of the company's remuneration committee, were not there.

Commenting on Ms Kerins's insistence that she was not paid by the taxpayer, Mr Ross said the taxpayer paid €83m per annum to Rehab, and that the group's annual report contained a very fulsome tribute to the taxpayer, thanking the Irish and British governments for the money and subsidies it gets.

Asked about the setting of Ms Kerins's salary rate by an outside firm, Mr Ross said this process compared Ms Kerins's salary with global companies of that size.

However, he said the average Irish charity paid its Chief Executive about €60,000 a year.

Mr Ross said Ms Kerins's salary of €240,000 was obscene by Irish standards.

He said the PAC did not yet know what Ms Kerins's pay was last year, and whether or not it was adjusted specifically for this meeting or for the figure being released.