News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 19th January 2014

Central Remedial Clinic’s Paul Kiely says he won’t give back his €742,000 severance money

 

Mystery over whereabouts of the documents detailing origin of €742,000 severance deal

 The former chief executive of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), Paul Kiely, has indicated to friends he will not be paying back his €742,000 retirement package, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

Mr Kiely has retained a legal team to deal with the fallout from the Central Remedial Clinic debacle, which culminated last week in the startling disclosures about his pension package, which was funded by charitable donations.

The focus of the HSE investigation into the CRC is shifting to the whereabouts of documents surrounding the financial settlement reached by the board of the organisation with Mr Kiely last year.

However, aside from the minutes of the board meeting at which that decision was made — which make no reference to how the figures were arrived at — further documentation has yet to emerge.

In particular, the HSE is looking for a copy of the ‘presentation’ made by the chairman of the board, Hamilton Goulding, to the members last March. The minutes of the remuneration sub-committee are also being sought.

The HSE’s specially appointed interim administrator to the CRC, John Cregan, will be meeting with the clinic’s auditors, Ernst & Young, next week to see what documentation it has on file.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday became the latest senior government figure to demand that Mr Kiely hand back the money, but a source close to the former CEO said this was unlikely.

“Based on my understanding of Paul’s situation and the legally binding agreements involved, Mr Noonan would have difficulty in retrieving these monies,” the source told the Sunday Independent.

The CRC scandal was disclosed at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week.

An audit by the HSE has revealed that Mr Kiely’s pay-off included €200,000 tax-free, €273,336 which was taxable and €268,689 paid to Mercer’s consultants to top up his pension fund as though he had worked until November 2016.

Mr Kiely had previously only admitted to a pension pot of €200,000. The money was secured from donations and paid out of accounts held by the Friends and Supporters of the CRC.

Mr Kiely has not spoken publicly since his appearance at the PAC in December.

It is not known if Mr Kiely is currently in the country but one friend last night said he believed the embattled former CRC chief was in London this weekend staying with a priest he knows from his college days.

Mr Kiely also frequently stays with his daughter, who lives in Bristol.

Mr Kiely told the PAC that he had planned to spend a month with his daughter before Christmas but had to cut the trip short to appear before the committee.

But Mr Kiely appears to be adamant that his package is above board and was fair.

A source told the Sunday Independent: “His contract of employment brought him to the age of 65. The agreement they came to was that he would leave early, with three years’ pay. Under the terms of his contract, he would have been entitled to six years’ pay.

“He is not in receipt of any monies yet. He will not start to draw his pension down until he reaches the age of 65. He is 59 now.”

Sources close to Mr Kiely expressed their surprise that he had answered questions in relation to his pension as it was never a pension tied to the health service.

One said they thought that Mr Kiely had been a little naive in responding to questions on it. He joined the private pension scheme in 1977 and made full contributions to it ever since.

Mr Kiely’s days had been numbered since Mr Goulding arrived at the CRC after leaving Aer Lingus.

A source said: “They didn’t see eye to eye and Jim Nugent was brought in to try and resolve matters but was unable to. He did not leave voluntarily, he was pushed.”

Mercer pension consultants worked out the entitlements Mr Kiely had under his pension according to the terms of his contract, which a source close to him said was “rock solid”.

Another informed source close to Mr Kiely said last night that his legal advisors were willing to sit down with the members of the interim board of the CRC to discuss the situation.

The source reiterated, however, that Mr Kiely’s contract and the legal agreements in place were absolutely binding and solid.

Mr Kiely is under mounting pressure to relinquish the €742,000 pension package that was paid for by charity lottery funds.

A former director of the CRC called on Mr Kiely to consider repaying some or all his gold-plated package to the clinic.

Former Fianna Fail minister Vincent Brady told this newspaper: “I think that certainly, in view of the amount of money involved, he should seriously consider giving some of it back or making a substantial donation to the clinic.”

Mr Brady, a long-standing board member, said he had been unaware of Mr Kiely’s pension package until the details were disclosed at the Public Accounts Committee last week.

He continued: “I did know a pension package was agreed. But we did not get any details of what that package was.

“In retrospect, the whole thing was ridiculous. We should have got the details and we should have requested them.”

Mr Brady said there was not a culture of questioning on the board of the CRC.

He added: “Board meetings were very short. Everything was presented as being rosy in the garden. No financial details were ever given in the minutes of the meetings.”

Mr Noonan added his voice to those of fellow cabinet ministers and opposition TDs, saying that the €742,000 retirement package awarded to Mr Kiely should now be paid back.

The Finance Minister said the financial management practices within the clinic for disabled children and adults were “astounding and absolutely shocking”.

When asked if the money should be repaid, Mr Noonan replied: “On the face of it, it should, yes.”

Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, the PAC chairman, suggested a further investigation might be needed over the affair, with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and gardai being called in.

Just two drink-driving arrests in Dublin after 1,100 motorists were stopped

  

The drivers were stopped over a one hour period at checkpoints in Dublin overnight.

Only two motorists were arrested for suspected drink driving offences in a large-scale Garda clampdown in the Dublin area last night.

A total of 1,100 vehicles were stopped as officers mounted checkpoints on major routes in five areas, including the N11 at Stillorgan, the N7 at Clondalkin and Ballymun Avenue.

The operation lasted one hour, between 12.30 and 1.30am.

462 drivers were breath-tested — and in addition to the drink-drive related arrests, 21 motorists were hit with penalty points, while six vehicles were seized (including those without motor tax or NCTs).

Assistant Commissioner John Twomey of the Traffic Bureau said the figures showed “the vast majority of people tested were compliant with the legislation”.

It’s the second weekend in a row that gardaí have carried out Saturday night testing in Dublin. One driver was arrested for suspected drink-driving last weekend.

Last night’s effort involved sixty personnel, including traffic units from all over the city. The operation was coordinated from Dublin Castle.

“Our appeal for 2014 is for every road user to make it their New Year’s Resolution to be as safe as possible on the roads,” Twomey said.

“There was considerable Garda enforcement activity over the Christmas Campaign. I want to stress that our enforcement will continue throughout the year.”

Got the January blues & feeling miserable “well don’t let it pull you down”

 

January can indeed feel miserable, empty and cold after all the warmth and merrymaking that is Christmas – but don’t entertain those negative thoughts that creep in this time of year, writes Bernadette Ryan.

January, don’t be cold don’t be angry with me…” and January can indeed feel miserable, empty and cold after all the warmth and merrymaking that is Christmas. Ho ho ho can turn to no no no! Why oh why did I eat too much? Drink too much? Spend too much? Party too much? And where’s that radio station when you need it?

The one that constantly told us that life was all holly jolly and dreaming of snow and driving home with Chris Rhea and chestnuts roasting and all that! Who could forget the Granny that got run over by a reindeer? Disappeared into the ether and left us with an empty space in our heads in which all sorts of confused thoughts and distortions can take up residence.

Then there is New Years with the promise of renewal and the opportunity to improve ourselves. To rid ourselves of the excess of Christmas, to rid ourselves of the guilt, remorse and regret we may be feeling. Yes! I will get fit, I will eat healthier, I will drink less and meditate more. I will start on Monday. This Monday then suddenly become next Monday.

The New Year promises to be so much better than the old one and we welcome this promise with open arms. Anything to shake off our old self and bring on the new and improved me. New Year’s resolutions, that’s the answer! Resolve, the dictionary tells us, is to be determined to do something. So we will strengthen our resolve and be better people.

Sound familiar? Why do we torture ourselves so much? Why do we constantly judge ourselves so harshly? Most of us seem to set ourselves almost impossible tasks; the perfect Christmas, the perfect family, the perfect home, the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect me. When will it be ok? When will we pass the final exam? What is the final exam? The reality is that there is no exam, no test. Life is not a competition where we have to be better or worse than anyone else. Life is for living and living in such a way that we are true to ourselves, true to our own heart.

So Christmas wasn’t like it is on Walton’s Mountain. The New Year seems the same as the old one. The only bit of Christmas red still hanging about is on the bank statement. The tins of biscuits and chocolates are still with us, just not where we want them to be.

This year’s resolutions have joined forces with the discarded ones from last year and seem to have morphed into a judge and jury that ruefully shake its head as an indication that we have failed yet again. Tried and found wanton, guilty as charged, not good enough. How about aspiring to being just that – ‘good enough’?

A wise young man that I know has decided that 2014 is the year to evolve instead of resolve. I like that notion and wish I could take the credit for it but that is his due. Evolve is to develop gradually. It has a feeling of ease about it like stretching and awakening and tuning inwards instead of imposing some external standard. It brings a sense of renewal, of meeting with the opportunities that the New Year will bring our way. Being open to possibility and change. Sounds much more exciting and fun to me.

So can 2014 be your evolutionary year? How would you like to evolve? Take your time; remember evolution is a slow process. Whatever you decide heed the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.

Social smokers don’t fool yourself  “be warned of the risks”

    

Almost a quarter of British smokers say they only have a social habit despite the fact many smoke six to 20 cigarettes a day.

A survey of 2000 smokers found 24% class themselves as social smokers but more than one in three of these buy up to a packet a day.

About 60% of all those questioned said they have tried giving up in the past, with women being slightly more likely than men to have attempted quitting.

One in six of those who had tried to stop smoking succeeded for over a year but then went back to their old habits.

Some 13% said part of the reason they took up smoking again was because their friends smoked and they did not like being left alone on nights out.

Other reasons included the effects of alcohol, a football team losing and because the smoker did not want to miss out on socialising with work colleagues.

Of those who did go back to smoking, 47% said they had initially cut down how many cigarettes they smoked.

The poll also found that 54% of smokers admitted to smoking in banned areas, such as indoors in public spaces.

One in six said this was because it was too wet and cold to smoke outside, while 14% took the risk because the area was not policed very well and one in 10 did so because they had never been asked to stub out their cigarette.

Catherine Cox, primary care manager at The Co-operative Pharmacy, which conducted the poll, said: “The smoking ban in public places has had a major effect on the health of the nation with a significant number of people giving up.

“But many smokers are convincing themselves they are consuming less tobacco than they actually are by classing their habit as a `social’ one.

“People see it as more acceptable to be a social smoker than admitting they regularly light up each day, even though our research shows that this is the case.

“Just smoking a few cigarettes a day has an impact on your health and the well-being of those around you.”

Freezing wind hits Norwegian bay and suddenly flash-freezes thousands of fish stiff

   

The above incredible image was captured from the tiny island of Lovund in central Norway after temperatures suddenly dipped, freezing the water and trapping thousands of fish.

Thousands of fish were flash frozen in a Norwegian bay after a harsh wind caused temperatures to suddenly dip to minus 7.8 degrees Celsius.

The huge shoal of herring were swimming too close to the surface when the water suddenly froze around them, completely stopping them in mid-swim and creating the incredible sight.

The image was captured by Ingolf Kristiansen from the tiny island of Lovund in central Norway.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It has not happened before here as far as I know,” he told NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

Normally fish would be able to swim underneath the ice but this time they weren’t so lucky – fish expert Aril Slotte said the herring may have become trapped after being chased towards the shore by a predator, possibly whales.

Mr Kristiansen said the fish remain completely frozen at present, but the local birds and whales are set to have a feast when it finally melts.

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