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Monday 18 December 2017

Kenny puts pressure on Coillte boss over cut in pay

Fionnan Sheahan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny piled intense pressure on the head of the state forestry agency to take a voluntary pay cut.

Coillte chief executive David Gunning is the only semi-state agency chief to reject the Government's request to cut his annual basic salary of €297,000.

Mr Kenny and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte both expressed criticism at the failure to respond to the Government's request for a cut.

"I am disappointed that not all the chief executives of commercial state bodies have seen fit to take a pay cut in this time of national crisis," Mr Kenny said.

Although he didn't name Mr Gunning when speaking at the Fine Gael presidential dinner, the copy of his speech circulated by Fine Gael did specifically identify Coillte.


Mr Rabbitte pointed out more of the semi-state companies fell under his department's remit. Coillte is controlled by the Department of Agriculture. "It's the voluntary request that the chief executive of Coillte says he will not meet.," he said.

"And I think that's regrettable because we're in different circumstances now than when those contracts were agreed. There are so many ordinary people finding it difficult to make ends meet, I think it would be appropriate for everybody at the top of the public sector to be seen to make a contribution."

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin appealed last June to commercial semi-state CEOs to take the 15pc cut if their salary was above €250,000.

Coillte paid Mr Gunning €473,000 last year, including a €56,435 performance-related bonus, deferred from 2008, despite a request from former Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith that the bonus payment not go ahead.

The remainder of Mr Gunning's pay package last year was made up of €74,000 in pension contributions and €33,000 in taxable benefits.

Irish Independent

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