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Bailout mandarin gets €725k top-up

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan's top official at the time of the bank guarantee received a pension top-up worth €725,000 in added years on his retirement earlier this year, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

As a result, David Doyle, who stepped down at the age of 60 at the beginning of February, walked away with an initial golden handshake worth almost €600,000 and has seen the value of his pension increased significantly.

Mr Doyle was Mr Lenihan's key official on the night of the bank guarantee on September 29, 2008, and played a crucial role in deciding the Government's course of action.

In line with norms for senior officials in the civil service, Mr Doyle received a tax-free lump sum of one-and-a-half times his final salary, worth €343,000.

On top of that, he also received a severance payment of €115,000 -- or six months' salary. As a result of the added top-up, his annual pension is also €115,000. This amounts to a total of €575,000.

His top-up and severance payment are among a number included in a €10.5m pension lump sum payout to top civil servants by all government departments since 2005, revealed today.

Fine Gael called yesterday for an immediate halting of the awarding of top-ups to pensions and called on Mr Lenihan to reform the system.

The Department of Finance confirmed that Mr Doyle, who had served 38 years in the civil service, was topped up to the 40 years to enable him to obtain the maximum possible pension. A department spokesman said that Mr Doyle's top-up was in line with public sector norms.

He said the amount of the top-up was "fairly small".

However, when the top-up is factored in over the course of the pension, the total is very considerable. Had Mr Doyle not received the added years, his annual pension would be about €100,000, it is estimated.

The value of Mr Doyle's pension top-up was independently calculated and verified by pensions expert Catriona Ceitin over the normal life span of a civil service pension and is adjusted for inflation.

Mr Doyle entered the public service in 1972 after working with Texaco since 1967.

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He joined the Department of Finance in 1975 and was appointed by Charlie McCreevy in 2001 as second secretary-general, public expenditure division.

He became secretary-general in 2006. Mr Doyle was succeeded by Kevin Cardiff, who appeared at the Public Accounts Committee last Thursday to explain the department's role in the €440bn bank guarantee.

Mr Doyle's lump sum is included in a €2m payout to former senior officials who have retired and the payout by Finance was by far the highest of any department, according to figures obtained by this newspaper.

Mary Harney's Department of Health has paid out €1,246,330 in lump sums and severance add-ons to five senior officials including one secretary-general.

Fine Gael's Terence Flanagan, who supplied the Sunday Independent with some of the figures, said the amounts being paid were not in line with what is happening in the private sector and said they were "excessive".

"When you consider the current economic situation in this country, these lump sums are excessive and will quite rightly make the public angry.

"Urgent reform is needed in the calculation of pensions for senior officials," he added.

He said: "The amounts paid by the State in tax-free lumps to retiring secretary-generals, second secretary-generals and assistant secretary-generals are extraordinary and are not in line with the private sector."

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