Friday 21 October 2016

PAC 'bullied and harassed me so much I tried to take my own life', former Rehab boss Kerins claims

Angela Kerins leaving the High Court
Angela Kerins leaving the High Court

Former Rehab CEO Angela Kerins has told the High Court "bullying and harassment" led by politicians on the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) resulted in her becoming convinced "my death would solve the problem".

She felt "really forced" into a decision to end her life by March 14, 2014 - two weeks after she appeared before a meeting of the PAC, she said in a sworn statement.

At that point, she was struggling to see a way through for either Rehab or herself and became "irrationally convinced" the solution "was for me to sacrifice myself".

"I had a bizarre belief that, if I was off the planet, the Rehab Group and everyone else close to me would be saved," she said. "My death would resolve the controversy which the Rehab Group found itself in, and would also protect my family from further fall-out."


On that March 14, she "sadly wrote notes to my family explaining the need to do this" before consuming a "large quantity" of pills and some alcohol.

A colleague had become concerned about an earlier phone call with her, she said.

That colleague got assistance to break into her home and found her, before she was taken unconscious to hospital where she was discharged the following day, and she said: "I was very angry with myself that I had not succeeded."

As a result of her experiences before the PAC and attendant media coverage, her whole world had "turned upside down" and she resigned as Rehab CEO in August 2014.

She said that PAC "set out to destroy me" and that was not in the public interest.

What she experienced was a "McCarthyite witch hunt". She lost her job, her career, was "deeply humiliated" and still feels a "deep sense of hurt".

She had joined the Rehab group in 1992, was appointed its CEO in 2006 and her work "meant everything" to her.

The statement was read by John Rogers SC, for Ms Kerins, when opening a hearing concerning the jurisdiction of PAC to question Ms Kerins.

That issue is central to her case over her treatment by the PAC, an action which includes a claim for aggravated damages

Ms Kerins alleges PAC unlawfully subjected her to a "vicious onslaught" and had no power to question her about issues, including payments by Rehab group to herself.

The hearing is before a three-judge court comprising the President of the High Court, Judge Peter Kelly, and Judges Seamus Noonan and Isobel Kennedy.

Transcripts of PAC hearings concerning Ms Kerins from February and April 2014 were read to the court.

When the court queried if they would see video recordings of the hearings, Mr Rogers said those lasted seven hours but he would consider the issue overnight.

Earlier, Mr Rogers said a Sunday Independent article by Independent TD, now Transport Minister Shane Ross, saying Ms Kerins had refused to reveal her "vast pay cheque" during an RTE interview set the tone in early 2014 for a "growing orchestration" of material "negative about her personality and character".


Deputy Ross was a member of the PAC that later subjected Ms Kerins to impermissible questions about matters not its business and outside its jurisdiction, counsel said.

After the PAC meeting of February 27, 2014, she was overwhelmed by its disposition towards her and the effects of the "media storm".

PAC, counsel argued, has in recent years "orchestrated a different mode of operation" characterised by a willingness to depart from a rule it should not, and is not permitted to, delve into personal and private affairs of companies, individuals, enterprises or charities.

The hearing continues.

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