Thursday 22 March 2018

More than 200 public servants earn over €200,000

Outside of the commercial semi-states, some other public sector bosses are minting it -- with quangos and other State agencies paying huge wages, writes Roisin Burke

According to Tony O'Brien, the best people in the country went into public sector jobs in the past, but, he says, high-calibre executives will in the future be lost to the private sector due to tumbling public sector pay.

Mr O'Brien, a former Anglo Irish Bank board member who chairs the Higher Public Servants' Remuneration Committee, said that future top public servants could be "second-division" material and that pay differences between public and private sector were "still enormous" with much better pay and pensions in private firms.

The payroll for the top earners in non-commercial State entities is more than €50m -- which funds six-figure salaries for those at the helm of such bodies as universities, the courts and the HSE.

A Freedom of Information response from the Department of Finance has revealed the salary details of many of thelesser known bosses in the non-comercial semi-states and quangos.

Senior figures may have taken major pay cuts but they are still earning high salaries, with seven earning more than €250,000 a year -- including Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) chief Frank Gannon and National Roads' Authority (NRA) boss Fred Barry. Mr Barry also has a massive bonus entitlement.

More than 200 top public servants, including High Court judges and hospital consultants, earn well above €200,000.

A further 15 earn more than €100,000, including those heading up quangos such as the Affordable Homes Partnership, the Housing Finance Agency and the Private Residential Tenancies Board.

Frank Gannon

Science Foundation Ireland


One of the top five most highly paid public servants in the country, Mr Gannon takes home €259,698 a year -- a higher pay packet than either Taoiseach Brian Cowen or Tanaiste Mary Coughlan.

However, he is down €40,000 in salary from last year and whereas he landed a €36,000 performance bonus in 2008, 2009 was bonus-free.

He is paid more than three times the average SFI salary -- which is a comfortable €77,000-plus for its 54 staff, many of whom are PhD science boffins.

Mr Gannon is in charge of a €150m science and technology research budget intended to power up our much touted 'smart economy'.

Outside the day job he has some interesting commercial sidelines as founder of pharmas Bimini and Elara Pharmaceuticals.

Mr Gannon is a nominee to Mr Cowen's newly announced €500m innovation fund chaired by Intel Capital's Damien Callaghan. A professor and molecular biologist, he has a research interest in genetics and has authored hundreds of scientific articles published for international journals.

After three years heading up the SFI he is reported to be set to depart and take up a research job in the Pacific Rim region, though he has one more year to run on his SFI contract.

Fred Barry

National Roads Authority

€257,692 PLUS BONUS

The boom of road building that Mr Barry presided over -- including the road network part of the €34bn Transport 21 -- is ending.

Mr Barry earns €257,692 a year, but has a bonus allowance of up 50 per cent of that as well. He is more than €35,000 down on his salary of €295,773 before the introduction of the pay cuts and public service levy.

In 2008 the NRA boss was the third best paid public servant in the land after President Mary McAleese and HSE boss Brendan Drumm, and that was before counting bonuses and allowances. He has now slipped to seventh.

Although Mr Barry's pay packet is smaller he may not be as busy in the future as the number of road projects have fallen sharply. No new schemes are being started by the NRA this year for the first time in more than a decade.

The NRA oversaw the building of the Limerick tunnel, motorways between Dublin and Belfast, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, the M50 upgrade and the port tunnel in Dublin.

An NRA spokesman said Mr Barry's contract was private and that he did not know if the NRA chief had been paid a bonus for 2009 or if he was going to get one this year.

Michael Murphy

UCC President

€232,151 plus extras

Last year, the salaries of university presidents, including Dr Michael Murphy, came to €1.6m in total.

With a salary of €232,151, the UCC president is the top earner out of Ireland's seven university heads, and is the eighth highest paid chief of a non-commercial State body. His pay is down from €273,119 in early 2008.

The pharmacology professor -- a former department head and dean -- manages a €120m capital investment programme at UCC.

The salary of the HSE chief is second only to that of the President

Dr Murphy and the other college heads haven't been shy about pleading for more exchequer funding for universities -- yet they retain their great salaries and packages.

Allowances, bonuses, expenses and pension entitlements can push up remuneration to €400,000-plus in some cases.

All of the other university presidents received salaries in excess of €200,000 in 2009, including Trinity College provost Dr John Hegarty; DCU president Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski; UCD president Dr Hugh Brady; University of Limerick president Professor Don Barry; NUI Maynooth president Professor John G Hughes; and NUI Galway president Dr James J Browne.

Most universities are in considerable debt, with both UCD and UCC having racked up liabilities of more than €10m each.

Brendan Drumm


€322,113 plus extras

The outgoing HSE chief's salary is second only to the President's. This year it stands at €322,113. That's a cut of more than €40,000 from €369,713 -- plus a controversial bonus of €70,000, which he ultimately gave to charity.

Professor Drumm will hand over to his successor Cathal Magee at the start of September. Mr Magee will take a massive drop in pay compared to the €1m package he has enjoyed as head of Eircom's retail unit.

The package agreed with Mr Magee is a basic salary of €322,113 a year, plus a €13,800 annual car allowance -- but no performance bonus. Mr Magee's bonus at Eircom was close to €300,000 a year at one point.

It costs more than €40m to pay the HSE's 168 hospital consultants. They have a pay level that, at €241,539, is in the 20 highest public servant salaries.

John Murray

Chief Justice


Uniquely among top public servants, the head of the judiciary has seen his salary increase since 2008. Chief Justice John Murray takes home the third highest public servant salary of €295,916, up more than €7,000 compared to two years ago.

Senior justice pay packets appear several times in the 20 highest public salaries.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns earns €274,779 while Supreme Court judges are paid €257,872.

Commercial Court judges, including Peter Kelly, take home €241,539 a year, as do High Court judges.

John Buckley

Comptroller AND Auditor-General


The State's spending watchdog earns €215,590 a year -- €30,000 down from his €247,449 salary before public service pay cuts and levies -- and earns more than the Tanaiste.

A trained accountant and barrister, John Buckley has been busy since he started as C&AG two years ago. He has delved into the shortcomings of the Financial Regulator's office in the run-up to the banking crisis, as well as multi-million euro irregularities at State training agency Fas and expenses' issues at the Irish Greyhound Board.

He is currently looking at the failings of the Dublin Dockland Development Authorities during the property boom.

His predecessor in the C&AG role, John Purcell, is carrying out a Government probe into the conduct of ex-Anglo Irish Bank executives.

Josephine Feehily

Chairwoman of the Revenue Commissioners


The State's top taxman is a woman, with a €215,590 salary pegged at a similar level to the Civil Service secretary general grade -- some €30,000 down from the pre-levy 2008 rate of €247,449.

It is a job with interesting future career promise -- Ms Feehily's predecessor was Nama chief and ex-Anglo Irish Bank director Frank Daly.

The Revenue Commissioners has also been actively recruiting extra staff for principal and assistant principal level with salaries of between €65,000 and €103,472 to tackle rising tax evasion in the recession.

Sunday Independent

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