Wednesday 18 October 2017

First woman EU watchdog O'Reilly to get €252k salary

Emily O'Reilly at a press conference after she was confirmed as the new European Ombudsman
Emily O'Reilly at a press conference after she was confirmed as the new European Ombudsman
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE new European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly will enjoy a €60,000 pay jump when she takes up her new role later this year.

Ms O'Reilly, who served as Ireland's Ombudsman and Information Commissioner for the last decade, will be paid a basic salary of €252,000 in Brussels, dwarfing Taoiseach Enda Kenny's €185,000 a year.

Her new salary is comparable to that paid to Ireland's EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn and also includes an array of lucrative allowances.

Journalist-turned-state agency watchdog Ms O'Reilly (55) was elected to the role of European Ombudsman by the EU parliament, beating off five other candidates after a three- month application process that included lobbying MEPs from around the continent.

She said she was "delighted" and "very honoured" to secure the job.

RESPECT

Mr Kenny last night congratulated her on her election saying: "It is an indication of her high calibre as a candidate and of the quality of the presentations she made."

He added: "The fact that she had the full support of Irish MEPs is testament to her many years of work as Irish Ombudsman. I am delighted to wish her well in her appointment to her new role protecting the rights of EU citizens."

Accepting the job, Ms O'Reilly said she hoped to raise the office, which investigates complaints against EU institutions, "to the next level of impact, authority and respect".

She said her goal would be to attract cases and investigate issues "that speak not just to individual complainants – even though they are, of course, very important – but issues that affect a wide group of people throughout the European Union".

The role comes with a €252,000 basic salary and boasts numerous allowances including:

* A €37,200 annual residence allowance and a €7,200-a-year household allowance.

* An installation allowance of €42,000 upon taking up her duties in Europe.

* A generous transition allowance when Ms O'Reilly leaves the post, the size of which depends on how long she is in office.

Ms O'Reilly leaves her job at the Irish Ombudsman's office in October where her salary currently stands at €191,306 following a number of voluntary pay cuts in recent years.

Her term in office was marked by clashes with the governments of the day on issues as diverse as nursing-home provision; compensation for those who lost family members at sea; and the implementation of freedom of information legislation.

Ms O'Reilly was the first woman to serve as Irish Ombudsman and is also the first woman to take up the position in Europe.

President Michael D Higgins thanked her for her time as Irish Ombudsman and wished her well in her new role saying her election "reflects the very high regard in which she is held across Europe".

The chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions Padraig MacLochlainn said he hoped her work investigating public complaints would "help bridge the disconnect that many individual citizens feel with the European Union".

Irish representatives Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers were among MEPs that welcomed her appointment.

Meanwhile, Ms O'Reilly's predecessor as European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros said he was convinced Ms O'Reilly would pursue her new job "with dedication, dynamism, and vision".

Irish Independent

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