Monday 18 December 2017

Just one of State's top earners volunteers for €250,000 pay cap

Edel Kennedy

JUST one state employee earning a basic salary of over €250,000 is opting to take a voluntary pay cut -- and he is already the lowest paid of the bunch.

The Irish Independent contacted the top 13 earners in the public sector yesterday but most refused to comment on the cap announced by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

Only Irish Rail chief Dick Fearn confirmed he would be voluntarily taking a pay cut, bringing his wage down by €6,000 per annum to the €250,000 maximum.

Of the top 13 earners, his pay packet is the smallest.

The highest-paid employee of the State, John Corrigan of the NTMA, gets a basic salary of €490,000. He is also entitled to a bonus of up to €390,000, bringing his total available package to €880,000.

A spokesman for the agency last night said: "The NTMA is exceptionally busy and has no comment . . . at this time."

Earlier this week, Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins said he was worth his basic salary of €264,756 and bonus and benefits of €124,000.

Mr Mullins warned that the Government might have trouble recruiting suitably qualified people if a cap was introduced.

He also claimed he would do the job for €250,000 if asked.

"When I got the job, apparently I was worth the money," he said. "I was asked a question this morning as to whether I would do the job at €250,000. Absolutely, I would."

But Mr Mullins yesterday refused to say if he would take a voluntary cut of €14,756.

A spokesman for Bord Gais said they had not yet received any official communication on the matter from the Department of Finance or the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

"When such communication has been received it will be considered by the board," he said.

The second-highest paid person in the public sector, Padraig McManus of the ESB, also declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), meanwhile, said: "The company notes the position of the shareholder, as outlined in yesterday's Budget speech."

Just last week Professor Frank Gannon finished up with the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) to take up a new role in Australia. He was earning a salary of €259,697.

An SFI spokeswoman said this was "in recognition of his international research experience and expertise".

An interim CEO is in place, but his salary and that of a new permanent CEO are not yet available as "the issues are currently under consideration".


Prof Des Fitzgerald, vice-president for research at University College, Dublin (UCD), is currently the highest-paid in the education sector at €263,602.

A UCD spokesman said the university was waiting for formal communication from the Higher Education Authority and Department of Education.

Delivering Tuesday's Budget, Mr Lenihan declared all future public-sector salaries will be capped at €250,000.

He also hinted that he could use the Government's stake to force current office holders in semi-state companies to accept a pay cut.

"Only a few office holder posts have salaries above this level, but there is a larger number in the state agencies.

"While there are issues about the contractual position of incumbent post holders, I think the position of the Minister for Finance as a shareholder or statutory stakeholder in these companies can be used to enforce the objective of the maximum salary within a reasonable timeframe."

Ryanair last night called on DAA chief Declan Collier to voluntarily take the cut.

"It is extraordinary that Declan Collier, the fat cat boss of the DAA airport monopoly should be paid more than €550,000 last year, including a €50,000 bonus, in a year when his airports lost money and lost more than three million passengers," spokesman Stephen McNamara added.

Irish Independent

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