An ongoing row over salaries at Irish state-funded charities and voluntary organisations took a fresh twist this wee, when it emerged that senior executives at Rehab, who have long refused to reveal their base salary payments, have awarded themselves lucrative bonuses.
The Rehab Group is Ireland’s largest disability-services charity, and has received more than [euro]365m from various state agencies in a typical five year period.
In 2010, four million euro of fundraising scratch card sales by Rehab yielded less than ten thousand euro in net proceeds, with the remainder frittered away on administrative costs.
Nevertheless, chief executive Angela Kerins only last week admitted to paying herself a 240,000 euro ($330,000) salary. This week, the existence of a huge bonus clause in Rehab executive payments has raised further questions about the packages enjoyed by Kerins and other senior executives at the charity group. Kerins is understood to be entitled to a bonus worth up to 84,000 euro ($116,000) on top of her salary.
Rehab are now refusing to clarify whether other executives are receiving bonuses and this week stonewalled officials at the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on a series of questions about salary levels.
POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS
Growing anger is being directed at the Health Service Executive (HSE) for continuing to sponsor the millionaire lifestyles of Ireland’s charity moguls, while basic services continue to be cut back. Last month, the head of another Irish voluntary organisation, the Central Remedial Clinic, was found to have arranged a 742,000 euro ($1.03m) severance deal for himself.
Meanwhile, the HSE has ordered the maternity service at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise to be shut down after a report, commissioned following the deaths of four newborns, found that its services were unsafe and unsustainable.
And the Irish Civil Defence has had to be called in to help cope with Dublin’s growing homeless problem by providing additional emergency beds. More than 4,600 people sought homeless services in Dublin last year, 40 per cent of whom had not sought help before. On average, six newly homeless people are seeking help every day in Dublin.
One mother protesting this week outside the offices of the Department of Social Protection in Dublin explained how a rent hike of 400 euro a month had forced her to leave the house where her family had lived for three years. They could not find somewhere more affordable and she was forced to send her three children to relative or move them into a homeless shelter. The only solution was to split her family.
The HSE has declined to release the details of the pay of senior staff, citing legal issues.
Mrs Kerins insisted she earned an appropriate amount for her job. “The last few weeks have taken a large toll on the Rehab Group and our clients. We are wondering what we have done wrong,” she said.
The disclosure of the Rehab bonus scheme came during a bad-tempered PAC meeting, during which Rehab was accused of being “evasive” and its pay policy was described as “shocking”.
Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald said that most of Rehab’s frontline staff had taken pay cuts as their salaries had been linked to public sector pay rates. However, senior management were not linked to the same pay scales, she said.