Monday 23 October 2017

Government asks head of finance to leave for new role in EU auditing

Kevin Cardiff: moving to
Kevin Cardiff: moving to Luxembourg

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

The Government has asked the head of the Department of Finance to take a new EU role in Luxembourg after less than two years in the job.

Kevin Cardiff was appointed secretary general in January 2010 by the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. He had played a key role in banking policy and in the state banking guarantee.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced yesterday that Mr Cardiff would be nominated to be the new Irish member of the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg. It is responsible for monitoring and auditing the vast EU budget.

The decision opens up a vacancy at the top of Department of Finance and it will mean that Mr Cardiff, who is in his 50s, will suffer a financial hit because he will be considerably short of the 40 years' service required for a full secretary general's pension.

His lump-sum payment -- which he will receive on retirement age -- will also be affected because it is also based on years of service. He will not qualify for a severance payment.

And it is possible he will take a pay cut on his current salary of €200,000. The European Court of Auditors confirmed last night that the salary for a member ranged from €191,000 to €203,000.

But there is also a living abroad allowance worth 15pc of salary while family travel expenses, moving expenses and personal travel expenses are also covered. There is also a pension worth up to 70pc of salary -- depending on time served there.

The Department of Finance confirmed last night that Mr Cardiff had not asked for the move himself. He said the Government had asked him to accept the nomination and Mr Cardiff had accepted.

A government spokesman declined to deal with questions about the circumstances of Mr Cardiff's departure. But he said there would be an "open competition" to find his successor -- which is expected to allow for private sector applicants. In the past, all heads of the Department of Finance were generally selected internally.

Mr Cardiff will stay in his position until after the Budget. He sent an email to Department of Finance staff yesterday saying he was "honoured" to be nominated to the European Court of Auditors.

His nomination needs to be approved by the European Council of EU leaders.

He will be replacing barrister and accountant Eoin O'Shea, who ran the media monitoring unit for Fianna Fail in the general election of 2002. Mr O'Shea was appointed to the position in 2010 as a replacement for Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and his term ends next February.

In a further twist last night, it emerged that Mr O'Shea's request to serve a full six-year term in the European Court of Auditors had been turned down by the Government.

Irish Independent

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