The Central Remedial Clinic threatens to destroy all charities in Ireland, thanks to the exposure of the naked greed behind the entire enterprise. Far from being a charity, the CRC seems to be a vehicle for enriching a small circle of people, many of whom would seem to fit neatly into the Drumcondra Mafia definition. In other words, the friends of Bertie Ahern, and before him, the Fianna Fáil cabal that held a stranglehold on everything that moved in the area.
Everyone has now seen the remuneration paid to Paul Kiely, whose salary — funded by the HSE — was €107,000, but who needed another €130,000 or so to give him a proper standard of living, as befits the CEO of a charity. I don’t know if he derived any other benefits from the CRC, such as a car but in due course, no doubt these details will emerge. Nevertheless, we do know this: Paul Kiely got more than €130,000 every year from a fund that collected money from the general public in good faith, and the people who donated to that fund did not think they were augmenting Paul Kiely’s handsome annual income.
Kiely resigned from the board of the charity just before the details of his remuneration were made public.
In the days since this story first broke, things have gone from bad to worse.
We now know that Paul Kiely got a tax-free lump sum of €200,000, taken from the money that ordinary people donated in order to help disabled children, and we know that he’ll receive a pension of €98,000 for the rest of his life. Nice.
I have qualms about everything to do with this, Mr Kiely said. Qualms about almost everything, it seems, apart from pocketing the money donated by the public.
Brian Conlan replaced Paul Kiely as CEO but resigned last week, just before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee put the CRC on the rack. He didn’t attend the PAC hearing and because he’s a former employee, he can’t be forced to do so. It seems Mr Conlan paid back that portion of his salary that had not been approved by the HSE. When asked why the new CEO resigned, CRC chairman Jim Nugent explained that the CEO found the whole thing very intrusive into his private life.
In other words, Nugent is saying that Brian Conlan was happy enough to take money from the charity as long as nobody was asking hard questions about it.
Now here comes the most bizarre revelation yet about the CRC and the Drumcondra Mafia.
In his statement to the PAC, Paul Kiely claimed that the CRC paid €666,000 to the Mater for administering a non-existent pension fund. In fact, it turns out that the Mater agreed to facilitate this because at the time, in the late 70s, the CRC was not categorised as a hospital, and therefore, money was channeled through a hospital, to circumvent the rules, all approved by the department of health at the time.
I know. Sorry. This is Ireland, where bullshit reigns supreme.
The arrangement benefited the hospital because it was allowed to charge between 10% and 13% of the pensions value every year, even though the administration work was minimal. It benefited the CRC board for obvious reasons because they could carry on their enterprise unhindered by regulation.
Now, there are two interpretations one might put on this.
The first is that the Mater hospital was doing the CRC a favour, but then you’d have to remember that the Mater was owned by the Sisters of Mercy in Eccles Street, a most ruthless organisation. I might just mention in passing that they demolished Leopold Bloom’s fictional home, No 7 Eccles Street, without a blink in order to erect their hugely-profitable Mater Private hospital, but that’s another story. These were the nuns who negotiated with Bertie Ahern’s government in the discussions about how much the clergy would pay for abusing children in the residential institutions, and they managed to extract, without too much resistance, a commitment that the clergy would not have to pay more than €100 million in compensation, despite their vast holdings of property paid for by the Irish public.
In the end, the taxpayer handed out over €1,400,000,000 while the religious orders so far have paid nothing towards the cost.
What is the common link between the Mater hospital and the CRC?
In the late 70s, the Mater’s financial officer (who prefers to call himself an accountant) was none other than Bertie Ahern, and the CRC was the private stomping ground of Bert’s political allies. As it remains to this day.
Everyone’s a winner, apart from the disabled people the clinic claims to be helping and, of course, the taxpayer, but hey, nobody cares about the little people.