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Wednesday 24 January 2018

ESB chief refuses to say if he will take voluntary 15pc pay cut

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

ESB boss Padraig McManus refused to confirm whether he will bow to an appeal by the Government to take a cut in his €400,000 salary.

His silence came after Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin announced salary caps for newly recruited senior civil servants, judges and semi-state chief executives.

But he appealed to existing semi-state bosses such as Mr McManus to take a 15pc voluntary pay cut to demonstrate "solidarity".

That would mean Mr McManus's salary would drop from €399,943 to €339,951 -- a reduction of almost €60,000.

But an ESB spokesman last night refused to say whether Mr McManus would agree to this voluntary pay cut. He pointed out that the soon-to-retire ESB chief executive had reduced his salary voluntarily by 15pc over the past two years.

"We have no further comment," he said.

Mr Howlin also announced a general salary cap of €250,000 for the heads of 28 other semi-state bodies in the future. The only exception will be the ESB, where the successor to Mr McManus will be paid about €319,000.

Mr Howlin said there was a need for leadership from those holding high office due to the "ongoing severe economic conditions facing the country".

Under Mr Howlin's new pay rules, the maximum salaries for senior civil servants will be €200,000 -- and all 15 secretaries general who head government departments volunteered yesterday to comply with this.


This will bring them into line with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who cut his pay to €200,000 on taking office. However, it could not be established last night if their pensions will be calculated on the basis of these reduced salaries.

The salary of the head of Department for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Joe Hamill, actually increased from €188,640 to €189,474 as a result of yesterday decision.

It is understood the Government is hoping the publication of the new salary caps for semi-state bosses will increase the pressure on the current post-holders, whose wages are legally protected in their employment contracts.

However, there was no sign last night of them responding to Mr Howlin's call for voluntary pay cuts of 15pc each.

An Post chief executive Donal Connell has a basic salary of €386,000 -- far higher than the new limit of €240,448. But a spokeswoman said he was declining to comment at this time. "Salary is a private matter between him and the board," she said.

Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins is on a salary of €265,000, but a spokesman said the call for voluntary pay cuts by Mr Howlin was a matter for the board to consider.

The new pay rules only apply to the salaries of semi-state chief executives -- and another review is being carried out by the Government on the bonuses they receive.

Fianna Fail public expenditure spokesman Sean Fleming said the exclusion of bonuses and pension payments meant that semi-state bosses would still be able to enjoy pay packages "way in excess" of the salary cap.

It also emerged last night that the salary cap would not apply to the 16 people in NAMA and the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) who earned more than €200,000.

These include NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh, who earns a salary of €430,000, and NTMA chief executive John Corrigan, who has a salary of €490,000.

The Government's position is that these staff are outside the public service and have been recruited on contracts.

Irish Independent

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