Friday 20 October 2017

Council managers in €1m pensions bonanza

Tom Dowling of Meath County Council
Tom Dowling of Meath County Council

Gordon Deegan

Retiring county and city managers received pension pay-offs worth over €1m between them.

One retiring manager, Joe Horan at South Dublin Co Council, received a lump sum and special severance gratuity payment in excess of €300,000.

The combined lump sum and special severance payments have been described by a TD as "obscene".

The Department of the Environment has confirmed that two more managers are due to retire in 2013.

Figures supplied by Environment Minister Phil Hogan showed that Mr Horan received a lump sum of €227,698 – in addition to a special lump sum payment of €75,899 – for a combined award of €303,597.

Mr Horan was 64 when he officially retired in April of last year and is now receiving annual pension payments of €75,899.

The retired manager of Limerick city, Tom Mackey, received lump-sum payments of €202,646 and €91,222 when he retired in February of last year – a combined total of €293,868.

DEAL

This was the highest-ever special severance gratuity payment received by a county manager.

Mr Mackey, who was 58 when he retired, is now in receipt of annual pension payments of €73,422.

His exit deal included special terms that allowed him to get pension benefits for the years that he did not work. In his case, eight years were added to his pension in order to ensure his entitlements.

The €1.3m received by retiring managers last year is almost three times the €476,186 in pension payoffs in 2011, when only two managers retired.

Mr Hogan confirmed that since the start of 2010, 11 retiring managers have shared €2.855m in pension pay-offs. That included four managers in 2010 who shared €1m.

Clare Daly TD said last night: "The idea of county managers being paid more than twice the national industrial wage in annual pension payments and retiring on six-figure lump sums is obscene, particularly in the light of the austerity that many people are facing."

Legislation introduced by the Government last year means that newly appointed county managers will not be able to avail of special terms in future golden handshakes.

As a result, newly appointed local authority managers – unless they have already reached pension age – will no longer benefit from immediate payment of pension and lump sums before they reach their preserved pension age.

Nor will they be able to avail of notional added years for pension purposes.

Mr Hogan has previously said: "No severance will be payable except in the case where a manager is not of pension age or has not been offered an alternative post; then severance of up to one year's salary will apply."

Tom Dowling retired as county manager of Meath aged 59 last September and received a combined pay-off of €290,658.

This was made up of €217,994 in a lump-sum payment and €72,664 as a special severance gratuity. Mr Dowling currently receives annual pension payments of €72,664.

The retired manager of Wexford County Council, Eddie Breen, received a pension lump sum of €202,646 and did not receive any special severance gratuity. Mr Breen, who retired last November, is in receipt of annual pension payments of €67,548.

Irish Independent

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