Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lenihan to stand by pay deal for top earners

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan is set to hold firm against pressure from Fianna Fail backbenchers to reverse his pay cut exemption for higher public servants.

He is due to address the parliamentary party meeting today after complaints that there was a "perceived inequality" in reducing the pay cuts for high earners to around 3pc, while lower-paid public servants bear the full brunt of cuts of 5pc or more.

According to a Department of Finance source, Mr Lenihan will continue to stand over his decision.

He is set to tell Fianna Fail backbenchers that his decision was based on the fact that higher-level public servants would otherwise be taking a bigger cut than lower grades.

Mr Lenihan is taking account of a scrapped bonus scheme that delivered annual payments of up to €17,000 to the affected group of around 600 officials.

He will pilot the Finance Bill through the Dail on Thursday.

Fianna Fail Limerick West TD Niall Collins said backbenchers would wait to see what Mr Lenihan had to say at the party meeting.

"We're looking forward to the discussion with him on it because it's a live issue on the ground and there's a perceived inequity," he said.

Fine Gael is due to increase the pressure on Fianna Fail backbenchers by bringing forward a motion in the Dail calling on the Government to reverse the pay cut exemption.

Its finance spokesman Richard Bruton said: "Performance pay and bonuses should only be paid on the basis of an exceptional performance. They should never be regarded as core pay."

The senior public servants include around 150 assistant secretaries in the civil service, three deputy commissioners and 12 assistant commissioners in the gardai, senior local authority staff, senior HSE staff and major generals and brigadier generals in the Defence Forces.

Around half of the State's 64 ambassadors will also benefit, as well as some of the specialist parliamentary counsel lawyers who draft bills for the Government

Irish Independent

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