herald

Monday 23 October 2017

PAC to force grilling on SIPTU boss over funds

THE Public Accounts Committee is to be granted the power to compel former SIPTU official Matt Merrigan, and two other officials, to be quizzed by TDs.

TDs wish to question Mr Merrigan over his role in setting up a multi-million euro "slush fund" account that was used to fund foreign trips. Mr Merrigan has previously refused to appear before the PAC.

Another SIPTU official, Jack Kelly, and a former Department of Health employee, Alan Smith, can also be compelled.

But while the rules body, the Committee on Procedure and Privilege (CPP), cleared the PAC to get compellabilty powers in relation to Mr Merrigan, it refused permission to compel two former Rehab Group chief executives to give evidence.

powers

Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery will avoid an appearance at the PAC after the CPP received legal advice that the PAC would be acting outside its powers.

The CPP is the only body that can grant compellabilty powers to the PAC. It is expected to inform the spending watchdog of its formal decision shortly.

The crucial issue that settled the debate was the legal interpretation of the PAC's remit.

Technically, it is only supposed to examine bodies audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General.

Although Rehab receives over €80m a year in state funding, it is not audited by the C&AG.

This rules out compelling the former Rehab bosses, who are unwilling to attend.

hnews@herald.ie

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