Saturday 18 November 2017

No proof offered for need to sign off gold-plated deals

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

THE Government refuses to provide proof to show why it has to sign off on gold-plated exit packages for the most senior civil servants -- because of a "secret" deal.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted it had no choice but to give secretary generals -- including recent retiree Dermot McCarthy -- the controversial payments.

These special severance payments dramatically boost pension pots and are not available to other public servants. They are worth half a year's pay plus up to 10 added years of service.

But confusion is growing over government discretion over the payments, as documents on the Department of Finance's website say the minister "may" rather than "must" award them.

In addition, its Superannuation Handbook and Guidance Notes, dated 2006, says the gratuity payment is payable "in certain circumstances" to secretary generals.

It does not say what these circumstances might be.

Despite what it says in its own documents, the department insisted the Government could not refuse the payments.

It said all secretary generals were entitled to the extras because of a decision taken by the outgoing government in March 1987 -- just five days before Garret FitzGerald's administration made way for Charlie Haughey's new Fianna Fail government.

But a spokesman said this decision on the exit deals was "secret" and could not be obtained -- even under Freedom of Information legislation.

The controversial measures mean all heads of government departments get a special severance payment worth half a year's pay when they leave.

The Department of Finance said that all secretary generals were entitled to them, regardless of their age and when they retired.

Secondly, they are entitled to up to 10 extra years of service in a further boost to their pensions.

The measures are known as Top Level Appointments Committee terms.

Irish Independent

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