Sunday 17 December 2017

DAA chairman says it's time to reassess cap on pay of semi-state bosses

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Government-imposed cap on salaries for semi-state chief executives needs to be re-examined, and performance-related pay should also be considered, according to the chairman of the DAA.

Padraig O'Riordan, a partner at law firm Arthur Cox, is being reappointed chairman at the DAA by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe. Mr O'Riordan has held the role since 2012.

He told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport that he had previously argued that DAA chief executive Kevin Toland should have his pay set a level more commensurate with a similar role in the private sector.

"I make that argument even more strongly now, both in respect of base salary and in reintroducing performance-related pay at chief executive level," said Mr O'Riordan.

"It is critical to the semi-state sector that we find and retain leaders of Kevin's ability and I urge the committee to do what it can to assist the board of DAA in achieving this objective," he added.

"There really is a necessity for this to try to retain people in the system," he told the committee.

Mr O'Riordan was asked to provide more details at a later stage about what type of salary range and bonuses the board would consider appropriate.

A former senior executive with dairy group Glanbia, Mr Toland was appointed chief executive at the DAA in 2012.

He took a substantial pay cut to take up the post. Mr Toland had been earning more than €1m a year at Glanbia. His pay at the DAA is €250,000 a year.

It took months to find a chief executive for the business after previous incumbent Declan Collier announced his intention not to seek a renewal of his contract. The current €250,000 salary cap on new semi-state chief executives was imposed by then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in 2010.

"This is an issue that goes beyond just the DAA, because it's State policy in relation to chief executive pay," said Mr O'Riordan.

"I understand totally that there are different perspectives in terms the country as a whole," he said.

"I come at this from the perspective of trying to get a company to operate optimally for the benefit of the State."

"People like Kevin Toland are a rare commodity. I think it's very important for us as a country, frankly, to value that type of leader because they really do make a difference," said Mr O'Riordan.

"I think I can see that already extremely clearly in the DAA."

"I'm not here to propose that Kevin's salary should be moved to x or y," Mr O'Riordan said.

"When Kevin was appointed, the Government was looking at a policy of introducing performance-related pay. That hasn't come to pass, which I'm sure is a disappointment for him."

"I would be very much of the view that performance-related pay should be related to real performance."

Mr O'Riordan also said that he sees "some merit" in a sale of Aer Lingus to IAG.

Irish Independent

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