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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Bid to reduce Amnesty chief's salary by €64,000

Cormac Murphy

Published 12/04/2014 | 02:30

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A motion will go before the annual conference of Amnesty International Ireland seeking to reduce the salary of its executive director Colm O'Gorman
A motion will go before the annual conference of Amnesty International Ireland seeking to reduce the salary of its executive director Colm O'Gorman

A MOTION going before the annual conference of Amnesty International Ireland will seek to reduce the salary of its executive director Colm O'Gorman by more than €60,000.

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Delegates will be asked if they believe Mr O'Gorman's pay of €99,089-a-year should be cut to the average wage of staff, which is €35,000. The proposal is by Amnesty member Kieran O'Sullivan who insists that "extraordinary action" is needed to restore the public's goodwill towards the voluntary sector.

When contacted, Mr O'Gorman, Amnesty's executive director in Ireland, told the Irish Independent he is not involved in setting his own salary.

Remuneration below executive level is decided by Amnesty's senior management but his own pay is decided by the board, of which he is not a member, he added.

"It's not appropriate that I would be involved in debates or discussions about my own salary. It needs to be decided by the board of the organisation, not by me," Mr O'Gorman said.

"As a membership organisation, Amnesty International encourages and supports members bringing motions on a whole range of issues to the annual conference. A few years ago, we had a motion that overnight expenses should be limited to €25 a night," he added.

Mr O'Gorman, a father of two, said the board is made up of Amnesty members who stand for election, adding: "I think what is of absolute importance when it comes to pay is transparency."

The 47-year-old said it is appropriate that decisions on salaries are "made independently of the people who salaries are affected".

Figures relating to his own pay, and the salary bands of lower level staff, have been published on Amnesty's website for the last few years.

Mr O'Gorman believes the fact Amnesty received an increase in donations last year– when other organisations which depend on fundraising suffered in the wake of the scandal surrounding executive pay – was due to its policy of transparency.

The conference takes place today and tomorrow in IBAT College at 16-19 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2.

Of his motion, Mr O'Sullivan, a member of People Before Profit, said: "The goodwill of the Irish people has been tested to the limit by the recent controversies over the excessive salaries of charity executives.

"Unless an extraordinary action is taken to restore this goodwill there is a serious danger of a collapse in the voluntary sector."

He added: "There are other prominent public figures who take the average industrial wage and Amnesty International is uniquely positioned to restore the goodwill that the voluntary sector depends on for its existence."

Mr O'Gorman's salary has already been reduced from the €110,098.58 amount paid in 2013. The salary band below that of the executive director has a maximum salary of €51,000.

Irish Independent

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