Former aviation authority chief hands back €81k payment
The former chief executive of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has handed back a €81,000 payment he received following his retirement last year.
Long-serving Eamonn Brennan, who retired last December, received the payment in lieu of cuts to his salary during the economic downturn.
However, Transport Minister Shane Ross queried the payment when the IAA submitted the authority's annual accounts to his department. When he was told the nature of the payment, Mr Ross insisted that it be recouped from Mr Brennan. The money was subsequently repaid by the former chief executive.
Mr Ross is understood to have been furious that the IAA approved the payment for Mr Brennan before receiving his ministerial consent.
In the authority's annual accounts it is noted that the IAA operates a Department of Finance-approved "performance related pay scheme" for chief executives. However, Mr Brennan did not receive a bonus between 2010 and 2017. The accounts also state that he voluntarily waived 10pc of his salary during the same period.
"Following his resignation, a payment of €81,000 was made to the former chief executive in full and final settlement from all matters arising from his employment with the IAA," the accounts add. Mr Brennan's salary before leaving the authority was €232,000 a year.
A spokesperson for Mr Ross confirmed that he questioned the payment when he received the annual report.
"The IAA submitted 2017 draft accounts to the minister in advance of its AGM earlier in the year, which led the minister to raise questions in relation to a once-off payment made to the outgoing CEO in late 2017," she said.
"Upon receipt of an explanation about this payment, the minister subsequently advised the board that the payment fell outside of current Government pay policy in relation to semi-State CEOs, and the board took remedial steps accordingly. The payment has now been reversed."
The minister's dissatisfaction was also relayed in a statement read into the record at the authority's annual general meeting.
"The IAA is a wholly owned State company, and therefore notwithstanding its commercial mandate it must operate within the specific legal and governance framework set out for State companies," it said.
"That means understanding that all matters relating to strategic planning, capital investment, remuneration and pensions require of ministerial support, approval and/or consent before decisions are finalised."
An IAA spokesman confirmed the payment had been returned and insisted there was no impropriety by the authority or Mr Brennan.
"A payment was made to the outgoing CEO in relation to a portion of his salary during the economic downturn," he said.
"However, upon review the IAA board decided that such a payment should not have been made. The former CEO therefore agreed to return the payment. There is no question of impropriety on the part of either the IAA or the former CEO."