INDEPENDENT DEPUTY SHANE Ross has said he will seek extra powers for the Public Accounts Committee to compel the outgoing chief executive Brian Conlan of the Central Remedial Clinic to appear at an Oireachtas hearing.
Speaking on Prime Time last night, the Dublin TD explained the PAC can seek the powers under new legislation if the former CEO does not appear tomorrow with other CRC executives.
“We can go to the procedural committee, the procedural committee privileges the Dáil,” said Ross. “I imagine we’ll get them judging by the very helpful words of the Taoiseach…when he said that he expected Mr Conlan to come in.
If Mr Conlan wants to put two fingers up the public accounts committee and say he’s not going to give any information then we will seek those powers. I’ve no doubt I’ll be asking my colleagues to do that.
Conlan and the Central Remedial Clinic have been at the centre of the recent ‘top-up’ scandal after it emerged that senior staff were paid extra monies from funds raised by a registered charity.
Although Conlan’s salary was in line with HSE guidelines, his predecessor Paul Kiely had received a top-up of €135,000 on a basic salary of €116,000.
Ross said he was shocked that there was a reluctance for people to come before the PAC, adding that their absence forces the committee to look for powers to compel them to attend.
“Mr Kiely is the biggest beneficiary of this top-up which was money which could have gone to children, which went to him,” he said. “He must answer what he was doing and why he was getting this money? And who, afterall, authorised it?”
Ross also noted that the precedent in this case was set by Rody Molloy who appeared before the PAC three or four days after resigning from FÁS following the spending scandal.
“I think his reluctance to come in tells a story in itself and he’s in a rather unique position because there are massive question marks in this issue about the process by which he got the job and we know the HSE issued two warning signals, what it notices to the directors of the CRC saying they were behaving extraordinarily, the phrase they use is highly irregularly.
“We want to know what happened here. This is, again it’s public money paying this man and for him to say everybody else knows it so I’m not coming in, looks like a guy who is ducking the PAC.”
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