Thursday 29 June 2017

Elite still earning €250,000-plus despite cap

ine Kerr and  Anne-Marie Walsh

AN elite group of semi-state chiefs, state agency bosses and judges are still earning more than €250,000 each, new figures reveal.

Some 28 individuals on the public payroll are being paid more than the new €250,000 salary cap, according to figures from the Department of Finance.

They include High Court judges and chief executives at the Health Service Executive (HSE), the ESB and the National Roads Authority.

And one-in-seven judges is still refusing to contribute to the pension levy being imposed on every other worker in the public sector. The revelation comes as senior ministers warned public sector workers they would face further wage cuts if savings were not delivered under the Croke Park Agreement.

The warnings were delivered by three Labour Cabinet ministers -- Pat Rabbitte, Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin -- who would have been perceived by the public sector unions as more sympathetic to their cause.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said the "alternative is clear" for public servants if "tangible savings" are not made under the Croke Park deal.

The new Government had hoped to quell dissatisfaction among public sector workers about the size of the salaries at the top level by imposing a salary cap of €250,000.

President Mary McAleese has made voluntary reductions and surrendered payments to bring her official salary of €325,000 down to the €250,000 cap.

But there are contractual issues which prevent the cap from being applied to those already in charge of semi-state organisations, while there are constitutional issues when it comes to judges.

Reductions

Around 126 judges, whose pay is protected under the Constitution to shield them from political interference, coughed up €1.2m in voluntary pension levy contributions last year.

But 21 out of the 147 Supreme, High, Circuit and District Court judges failed to make any contribution, according to figures from the Revenue Commissioners. That accounts for one in seven of the total.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he was now investigating other ways of securing reductions in the salaries of highly-paid public servants.

The group of 28 receiving salaries of over €250,000 includes nine in commercial state companies; nine in non-commercial state agencies; four in the education sector; nine in the judiciary and one in the Oireachtas.

Meanwhile, INTO secretary general Sheila Nunan insisted teachers were delivering more than a million extra hours worth €70m for no extra cost.

"In effect, Croke Park is giving the State more than a thousand teachers for no cost," she said.

ASTI General Secretary Pat King said second-level teachers had agreed to 33 additional hours each per year.

He also said hundreds of second-level teachers would be redeployed this year, at a time when second-level schools would lose a further 500 teaching posts.

There is no one in either the civil service or local authorities with salaries in excess of €250,000.

However, the group of 28 receiving salaries of over €250,000 does not include consultants employed by the HSE or staff employed by the Central Bank or the National Treasury Management Agency.

Irish Independent

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