€147,000 'pay scale' for nurses' chief
Nursing union chief Liam Doran's salary scale is matched to the Director of Human Resources in the HSE, who is paid €147,000 - three and a half times more than the average pay of a nurse.
But Mr Doran, who is general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), has refused to put a figure on his exact salary or pension.
Breaking his silence on the controversy, he confirmed to the Irish Independent that his pay grade is equivalent to the Director of Human Resources in the HSE.
The salaries of all staff in the union are based on public service grades which mirror those of the HSE.
The latest financial accounts for the union, lodged in July, reveal it has a pay and pensions bill of €5.3m, of which €4.2m goes on salaries.
It has 68 staff, 10 0of whom are part-time, averaging pay of €61,560.
A handful of other senior staff in the union are benchmarked against grades in the HSE, which carry salaries of around €80,000 to €90,000.
Mr Doran said that it is his union policy not to disclose individual salaries.
"The union does not have any add-ons for employees such as a company car, bonuses or other top-ups," he added.
"The gradings are set out in our annual report and it is discussed in private session at our annual delegate conference annually," he said.
He said all staff are just paid a salary and pension.
Mr Doran's refusal to divulge the figures for his salary was backed by the union's President Claire Mahon.
The annual report gives a range of salary scales which are pegged at those of he public sector, she told RTE's Marian Finucane show.
"We ourselves are very happy with our governance structures," she added.
The union continues to have a defined benefit scheme and has striven to maintain this, although the benefits have had to be cut in recent years. It cost the union in the region of €1m in 2014.
The average public sector earnings in the final quarter of last year were €47,369, leaving the average INMO salary, at €61,560, 30pc higher.
Earlier this year, the union campaigned against a rise of €50 to €150 in the registration fee for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, where average salaries are €49,000.
The financial accounts reveal that the union spends a substantial sum every year on media training.
The spend was €20,198 in 2012, €21,678 in 2013 and almost €19,000 in 2014.
The accounts do not state who received this media training and whether it was confined to staff or included members.
Apart from subscriptions, the union's other source of income is €167,000 from running professional development courses.
The union spends around €250,000 annually on organisation and travel.
The majority of the union's members would be staff nurses on salaries of up to €46,000.
The union, which is to hold two-hour strikes in a number of hospital A&E departments next month, criticised the levels of pay for nurses this month.
Mr Doran said nurses had never been well paid and current levels of pay were a factor in failing to get them to work in hospitals.
Talks are expected to avert the strike action.