ALMOST 200 senior civil servants have been awarded additional payments of €2,250 to €3,750 each for "exceptional extra attendance" during Ireland's presidency of the EU this year.
However, the Government has defended the payment, saying the payout for their extra hours worked is "substantially lower" than in the case of the previous presidency.
"The award is in order to compensate officers to some degree for the additional and excessive disruption to family life and extra attendance involved in foreign travel during the presidency," a spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said.
A smaller payment is to be made to more junior grades, he added.
When Ireland last held the EU presidency in 2004, payments amounted to a maximum of €5,000, so this year's award represents a cut of at least 25pc.
Also, payments will be limited to civil servants who had to travel to meetings in Brussels and other parts of the EU for seven days or more.
In 2004, payments were made to all civil servants who worked excessive extra hours without pay, irrespective of whether that was here or abroad.
The public service adjudicator, Brendan Duffy, accepted that the work demands of the presidency resulted in "much disruption to normal family life" for the civil servants.
The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants said the presidency imposed "onerous work pressures" on certain members.