Monday 20 November 2017

Coalition to step up pressure over €1m bonus

Fionnan Sheahan and Aine Kerr

THE Government is hoping to find a way of forcing former Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton to give back his €1m bonus through a review of activities at the building society.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan also wants a review of all pensions and payments in the banking and financial regulatory system.

After Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher's climbdown on his €1.5m pension top-up, the opposition continued to press the coalition on other banker payments -- in particular, the failure to get Mr Fingleton to give back his €1m bonus.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny also said former financial regulator Patrick Neary's pension should now be examined. Mr Kenny said the case existed for an examination of payment to people who were "clearly grossly incompetent in their duties".

He said legislation was needed to ensure pension top-ups did not occur again for bankers, and to apply this retrospectively.


Mr Ryan claimed a "complete review" of top bankers' pension arrangements was required.

Asked if the pension of Mr Neary and the pension arrangements in banks should now be reviewed, Mr Ryan said: "Certainly, yes. I don't see why the banking business should necessarily be treated so differently. . . that executives have to be paid so high.

"They need first of all to regain a certain amount of trust here and elsewhere," he added.

The Green Party minister further claimed the whole culture, resulting in some top executives earning 100 times what a cashier was earning, must change. That level of inequality was not sustainable or healthy in the long run, he said.

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan defended the coalition's handling of around the issue of the bankers' pay.

The Government, she said, had brought in measures to cap the salaries of senior staff in the banks. And she insisted Taoiseach Brian Cowen had not endorsed what was said by Bank of Ireland and had asked its chief executive to reflect on public utterances.

The Tanaiste said the Government was doing everything to ensure Mr Fingleton returned the €1m bonus.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said such soothing pleading to Mr Fingleton wouldn't happen if a cash-strapped business person was in the same situation.

Irish Independent

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