300 public servants now earn €165,000
- €250,000 in tax-free lump sum
- €80,000 a year average pension
MORE than 300 of the State's top earning civil servants took home salaries averaging more than €165,000 last year.
The 338 heads of government departments and state agencies shared a €56m pay bonanza in 2008, an Irish Independent investigation has found.
Many enjoyed five-figure salary increases in the space of just two years.
On top of this they are entitled to an average pension on retirement of more than €80,000 a year and a tax-free lump sum of up to €250,000.
The findings of the pay survey -- the first ever complete compilation of the public sector's biggest earners -- will pile further pressure on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to clamp down on public sector executive salaries as talks with the social partners resume today.
The scale of the huge public sector pay packets is revealed as more than 16,000 private sector workers lost their jobs last month.
The pay probe reveals senior judges, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the secretaries general of government departments all earn in the region of €250,000.
The heads of Enterprise Ireland, Forfas, the Central Bank, Financial Regulator and An Bord Pleanala also earn salaries well in excess of €200,000.
Other big earners include:
- Aidan Browne, head of the Children's Acts Advisory Board, which advises Government on caring for children in detention and care and welfare issues, earns €150,442.
- Irish National Stud chief executive John Clarke took home €115,000.
- Jim Ferguson, the chief of the Advisory Council for English Language Schools, earned almost €94,000.
- Digital Hub boss Philip Flynn was awarded a €23,975 bonus in 2007. He also receives a €12,000 per year car allowance on top of his €184,179 salary.
The vast majority of senior civil servants surveyed earn well in excess of €100,000 -- or almost three times the average industrial wage.
All of the top earning public sector chiefs have benefited from generous rises secured under national wage agreements.
While many senior public officials have taken a pay cut for 2009, in some cases salaries rose by five-figure sums between 2007-2008.
Chief Justice John Murray earned €295,915 last year, an increase of €14,259 on his 2007 pay packet.
Director general of the Environmental Protection Agency Mary Kelly's pay packet increased by more than €9,844 in the same period.
Enterprise Ireland boss Frank Ryan earned €250,578 in 2008, an increase of €20,635.
Dublin City manager John Tierney earned €202,461 last year, up €9,726 on his 2007 salary.
While all public sector workers are set to be hit with a new pension levy of up to 7pc, they can, unlike their private sector counterparts, look forward to a generous tax-free lump sum payment equivalent to one-and-half-year's salary when they retire.
The vast majority of pay rises awarded to public sector workers are also automatically linked to their pensions.
Details of the scale of the massive pay packages follow Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's admission in this month's crisis Budget that senior public sector pay had spiralled out of control during the boom years.
Spiralling executive salaries have also angered lower paid civil servants.
The Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU) recently criticised what they claimed was a 93pc increase in the salaries of government secretaries general since 2000.
As well as their wages, some top civil servants could earn bonuses each year of up to 20pc of their basic salary -- a practice that has now been shelved because of the downturn.
Geraldine Ruane of Ordnance Survey Ireland received a bonus of €32,116.42 in 2007 on top of her €123,316 salary. Last year her salary rose to €154,257.
The chief executive of the National Roads Authority, Fred Barry, earns €250,000 and is entitled to a bonus of up to 50pc.