Wednesday 28 June 2017

Semi-state bosses top off salaries with huge directors' fees

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

A STRING of the top semi-state bosses are still entitled to annual director's fees of around €15,000 for sitting on their own boards -- on top of their bumper salaries of as much as €310,000.

Just one of the elite group last night publicly said he would give up his fees, following strong pressure from Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin.

Mr Howlin has given all board members the opportunity to gift the money back to the taxpayer -- and his department also last year directed semi-states to end the payments to CEOs "at the earliest opportunity".

The Government has changed the rules so all newly recruited CEOs will not be able draw down board fees on top of their salaries.

A spokeswoman for Mr Howlin last night said fees should not be paid to CEOs, but nothing could be done about people who have it built into their existing contracts. Only Eamonn Brennan, the chief executive of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), who was paid €365,000 in 2010 -- the last year for which figures are available -- says he will give up his €13,000 board fee.

But those refusing to say if they will avail of Mr Howlin's offer and decline payments for sitting on their own boards are:

- An Post chief Donal Connell, who got a basic salary of €386,000 in 2010 and a board fee of €16,000.

-National Lottery chief Dermot Griffin, who is on €230,000 and gets a board fee of €12,500.

- Bord na Mona's Gabriel D'Arcy, who was understood to be on a salary of €231,000 in 2010, gets fees of €13,000.

-Bord Gais chief John Mullins, who got fees of €15,750 in 2010, on top of his salary of €265,000, which he been cut to €250,000.

-Eirgrid's Dermot Byrne, who got a €228,000 salary in 2010, as well as director's fees of €12,600.

- Declan Collier of the Dublin Airport Authority, who got a salary €308,500 and fees of €15,800 in 2010.

Mr Collier was embroiled in controversy last year when he surrendered a controversial €106,000 bonus he was paid for 2010. The DAA chief gave it up after public uproar, and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar set a deadline to settle the issue.

However, he is due to leave his post with the DAA in April to take over as chief executive of London City Airport.

All of these bosses recently agreed to take pay cut of up to 15pc when asked to do so and gave up performance bonuses after public pressure last year.

When asked by the Irish Independent if they would waive their director's fees, all would only say that details of their pay would be contained in their organisations annual reports. The reports for 2011 have yet to be released, and those for 2012 will only come out next year.

Other semi-states CEOs do not get fees for sitting on their own boards, and these include acting VHI chief executive Declan Moran, as well as RTE director general Noel Curran and new chief executive of the ESB, Pat O'Doherty.

Other CEOs, such as those in Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and forestry agency Coillte do not sit on their companies' boards.

It also comes after chairman of the state boards -- including Education Minister Ruairi Quinn's multi-millionaire brother Lochlainn, chairman of the ESB -- declined to say if they would give up their fees.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has had board fees in its sights for months, and introduced new rules last year. Robert Watt, the department's secretary general, said the payments should have been stopped, but acknowledged there could be delays.

A rule called 'One Person, One Salary' now applies across the public service and semi-state agencies.

It says public servants on state boards in "ex-officio" capacity should not be paid fees.

Irish Independent

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