I commend my colleague Deputy Mac Lochlainn on his introduction of this Bill, which adds our party's voice to the demand that Government regulate the charity sector. I agree with the Minister of State that, undoubtedly, the majority of charities act properly. Even in those cases in which board members or executives have been found wanting, the staff providing the services within those charities have also acted properly and take great pride in the service they deliver, in the case of the Central Remedial Clinic, to people with disabilities.
However, it should not have taken a scandal such as that of the CRC or the exposure of top-up payments to hospital and agency chiefs to spur the Government or the previous one into action. I cannot understand why Government parties intend to vote against our Bill this evening, as it simply calls for the full implementation of the 2009 legislation. Last night, the Minister for Justice and Equality described the Charities Act as an important legislative milestone in this State but, to be blunt, until its provisions are implemented, the Charities Act is not worth the paper on which it is written. The term "legislative milestone" may sound good in this Chamber, but unless a legislative milestone is converted into action, it means little to the outside world. The Minister has cited costs as a barrier to implementing the Act in full. I put it to Government Deputies that they and we cannot afford not to implement the Charities Act 2009 in full.
I do not understand why Governments must wait until things go belly-up, whether in regard to the care of our most vulnerable citizens of the spending of public moneys on them, before putting the necessary checks and balances into the system. Why must public confidence be rocked to its core and untold damage done before it steps up to the plate? I am interested in hearing from the Government the full cost of implementing the 2009 legislation. Let us have the figures. What is the annual saving to the State due to not implementing the legislation in full? If there truly is a concern in regard to cost, let the Government come to us with the figures and let us have that debate.
I believe this House could and should send a message tonight to citizens that we hear their outrage and their hurt. We should stand together united in our commitment that the 2009 legislation will be implemented in full. Last week, the Committee of Public Accounts learned that €700,000 from the funds of the Friends and Supporters of the CRC, gathered by charitable donation, was used to top up the pension pot of the former CEO.
The golden handshake in this case was approved by the board under what seemed to be a cloud of secrecy. The former chairman of the Central Remedial Clinic, Mr. Hamilton Goulding, stated in an interview over the weekend he had been unable to cut Mr. Kiely's annual salary of €240,000. I find this an astonishing statement and further evidence that the scandal at the CRC, like the public's outrage, runs much deeper than originally anticipated. Initially the investigation of the Committee of Public Accounts revolved around compliance by the Central Remedial Clinic and other section 38 agencies with public pay policy. What we uncovered, despite efforts to mislead the committee, was a systemic culture of entitlement of the few to the detriment and at the cost of the many. What we have learned to date is truly shocking, but let it be said what we have yet to uncover may prove worse. We do not know as yet.
My office has been inundated with e-mails, calls and letters from citizens throughout the country who are angry, upset and really hurt by the revelations about the CRC. I am sure it is the same for other Deputies. Charities have consistently called for regulation of the sector and the Government's refusal to do so has compounded the sense of hurt and outrage. It is the families who rely on the services of organisations such as the CRC who are most devastated by the revelations.
The scandal exposes fundamental faults in how the State delivers non-acute health supports and services to citizens; therefore, it is not simply a matter of public pay policy. It is about good governance, ethics, organisational culture and the role and responsibility of management. It seems that in many instances since the foundation of the State successive Governments have looked to others to do their job for them, be it in education, health or housing. For decades the Establishment parties have outsourced the care of citizens. With the religious orders of old or the modern manifestation of section 38 and 39 agencies, the State has actively sought to put responsibility for these services at arm's length. We have learned that money was paid out without the accountability associated with direct State provision. It is timely for a substantive debate on how the Government takes on this very obvious faultline in the public health system, in particular.
We need to be clear that the CRC is not the end of the story. In fact, it may prove just to be the beginning. The information brought forward in the Dáil last night by the Minister for Justice and Equality on the Rehab Group was very troubling. It requires a considered response from the group's board and management, not the type of knee-jerk and deeply inadequate statement issued by Rehab this morning. At this stage we cannot and should not take a conclusive view of management's or the board's probity. However, information already in the public domain should give us real cause for concern. This evening the Committee of Public Accounts, on foot of the information made available by the Minister, has written to Rehab, the Department of Justice and Equality and the HSE seeking further information.
Speaking recently, Ms Angela Kerins, CEO of Rehab, argued that she was not subject to HSE pay ceilings and cited the fact that 60% of the group's activities were commercial, as they are. She subsequently refused to give details of her salary package. Based on the information in the public domain on the issue of pay, it seems Rehab is walking two roads at the same time, which seems to be a theme in many of these agencies. Rehab's income for 2012 was €183 million, one third of which came from public moneys, with another 10% from charitable sources. Ms Kerins cannot have things both ways. Rehab Group management has actively sought to adhere to public sector pay policy but only when it comes to cutting the pay of staff working in the organisation. In early 2010 Rehab cut workers' pay in line with the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act. The case made its way to the Labour Court where Rehab management argued very vigorously that the group had clear links with public service rates of pay and pay movements. When it comes to the staff of Rehab, management applies public sector pay policy or seeks to do so but not when it comes to the pay of the CEO. This troubles me and it is a question we need to raise with it.
We have heard much in recent times - certainly at the hearings with the CRC at the Committee of Public Accounts - which points to a culture or sense of entitlement among some in society, not least some of those who serve on these boards. As the Minister stated, people make donations to charity in good faith. They do so as an act of human solidarity with others and donations, however large or small, must go towards the purposes for which they were intended. I agree with the Minister that trust and confidence in charities have been hugely damaged and need to be rebuilt. The Minister of State has told us that the Government cannot afford to implement the Charities Bill in full, but to this Sinn Féin states it cannot afford not to do so.