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High Court: "Intense and unrelenting stress" led to hospitalisation of Angela Kerins

The former CEO of Rehab’s damages case against the Public Accounts Committee continues today.

19/07/2016. Angela Kerins case. Pictured is the fo Angela Kerins outside the High Court today Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

AN “INTENSE AND unrelentingly stressful environment” lead to the hospitalisation of former Rehab CEO Angela Kerins in March 2014, the High Court has heard.

A letter from Kerins’ doctor in Waterford was read to the court, in which the doctor said Kerins had suffered from anxiety, exhaustion, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmia, abdominal and chest pain, and had collapsed repeatedly in the previous months as media attention and her appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in February 2014 took its toll.

Kerins is seeking damages from the PAC for distress, public humiliation, and the loss of her career.

Today counsel for Kerins John Rogers SC outlined that the PAC was aware that it was stepping outside its remit in its pursuit of Kerins and others.

Rogers cited a number of media reports to this end, including one from January 2014 which suggested that Melissa English, the parliamentary legal adviser at Leinster House, had warned the members of the PAC in January 2014 in “blunt” terms that it was in danger of straying outside its remit.

That report suggested that some members of the PAC had privately expressed concerns to English as regards how the PAC had been conducting itself.

President of the High Court Peter Kelly, presiding, said of this evidence:

“Evidentially members of the committee had been advised by its own legal adviser that they had no jurisdiction to (ask such questions) and in the teeth of that advice proceeded regardless.”

“That is exactly my submission,” Rogers replied.

There can be no doubt, when it comes to the law, as to the limits of the PAC under its own rules.
We assert that they did have legal advice to the effect that they had no jurisdiction.

“One has to assume that PAC reads its own terms of reference,” Rogers added.

It is a Dáil committee, you can only have powers as set out in your standing orders.

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