CRC board resign with immediate effect

The scandal-struck board of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) has resigned en masse after days of controversy over top-ups and pensions.

Directors and others senior figures who were involved in the operation and management of associated companies have also quit under intense pressure from across the political spectrum.

In a statement the clinic said the board had quit with immediate effect.

“Members who were directors of Friends and Supporters of CRC, CRC Medical Devices or The Care Trust have also resigned these positions with immediate effect,” it said.

“Following the resignation of the Board, the work of the dedicated staff and supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic to sustain, support, develop and protect the volume, quality and reliability of the services available to people with disabilities in Ireland deserves to continue as it has for more than six decades.”

The resignations were forced after former chief executive Paul Kiely, who only confirmed his own departure from the board on Wednesday, disclosed the full extent of his earnings from the clinic.

On top of his salary he received a €200,000 pay-off taken from charitable donations.

The board at the clinic and its associated companies as recently as December 2 included chair and acting chief executive James Nugent and solicitor David Martin, who were gquestioned for five and half hours by a parliamentary watchdog on Wednesday.

That Public Accounts Committee uncovered that the clinic had paid millions of euro to the Mater Hospital in pension payments – €660,000 a year. The Mater will be asked to explain this next Thursday.

Other confirmed board members up until 10 days ago were Ham Goulding, Vincent Brady, Ailbhe Rice-Jones, Martin Walsh, Hassia Jameson, Francis Sheppard, Pat Ryan and Professor Mary Day.

The Mater has accepted €660,000 was paid into the Voluntary Hospital Superannuation Scheme (VHSS) last year and said the hospital will be liable for CRC pensions for 181 staff “in perpetuity”.

The arrangement was put in place in the 1970s for what the Mater said were “legal and technical reasons”.

But Mr Kiely said the payment to the Mater included a premium of 10-12% for administration of the pensions scheme even though a grade three civil service clerk could have been employed to do it.

As well as Mr Kiely, the CRC has been found to have dipped into charity funds to boost the already substantial salaries of four other managers by tens of thousands of euro every year.

A manager of client services, an administrator and HR manager were each on a Health Service Executive-funded salary of €79,000.

But the CRC took cash from its fundraising company called Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic to boost their executive pay packets by €32,357 each.

In the case of the IT manager, who was also on an HSE salary of 79,000 (£66,400), the top-up was €37,841.

Mr Kiely retired on a pension of around €90,000 a year from a private scheme – which was also propped up by a €3m loan from the donations.

Around 70 staff at the CRC are involved in the private pension scheme.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday suggested the board should quit, while Justice Minister Alan Shatter was clear they should stand down.

Brian Conlon, the most recent chief executive of the CRC, announced his resignation on Monday.

He only took up his role at the helm of the clinic during the summer.

The move followed weeks of controversy over the use of public donations to top up the salaries of bosses at the centre, which treats adults and children with physical disabilities.

It is one of 44 health agencies and hospitals being investigated over audits into whether they are compliant with a salary cap in the Health Service Executive (HSE).

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