Wednesday 21 August 2019

Transparency sought by minister as groups refuse to disclose pay

Shane Phelan, Caroline Crawford and Emma Jane Hade

A government minister has called for unions and representative bodies to be transparent about the pay packages of their leading officials.

The call by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe came as the heads of a number of representative organisations defended the decision of their bodies not to reveal details of executive pay. Packages paid to top executives at major representative bodies have come under intense scrutiny in the fallout from revelations about the pay of former IFA secretary general Pat Smith.

However, the presidents of the Bar Council, the Construction Industry Federation and the Licensed Vintners Federation backed the practice of not publicly disclosing the salaries of their top officials.

But Mr Donohoe called for a more open approach: "I do think it is important that all organisations involved in representing members' interests are transparent about the terms and conditions that officers and leaders within the organisations receive," he said.

"It is the kind of change we have seen take place across many parts of our public service and other parts of Irish life, and I think it is appropriate that attitude be in place everywhere."

A spokesman for David Barniville SC, president of the Bar Council, said he was fully aware of the pay package of its director Ciara Murphy, but it was their policy not to disclose staff salaries. Mr Barniville is not paid any fee for acting as president.

Michael Stone, president of the Construction Industry Federation, said it had a remuneration committee which ensured robust procedures were in place. He said that if members wanted to know about the pay packages of director general Tom Parlon or other staff, they were free to ask him.

Mr Stone also said his role as president was an unpaid one.

The chairman of the Licensed Vintners Association, Oliver Hughes, said he was aware of the salary paid to chief executive Donall O'Keeffe.

"I don't think it should be made public because one's salary is a private affair," he said.

Mr Hughes added that his role as chairman was unpaid.

John Foy, past president of local grocery body RGDATA, insisted that everyone on its board was aware of the salary of director general Tara Buckley.


However, he questioned whether it would be fair for salaries in professionally run organisations to be publicly disclosed. "The salary is fully transparent for all board members," he said.

Current RGDATA president Colin Fee did not respond to a request for comment.

Several other organisation presidents did not respond to questions, while the president of the Garda Representative Association, Dermot O'Brien, said he had "no comment" on whether he agreed with its policy regarding pay disclosure.

The GRA's policy is to provide details of the salary of its general secretary PJ Stone to members at its annual conference, but not to do so publicly.

AJ Noonan, president of the Small Firms Association, declined to comment on its policy of not disclosing the salary of its director Patricia Callan.

The president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Claire Mahon, also refused to comment on the issue of her body's refusal to divulge the pay of its general secretary, Liam Doran. "I don't think any of the salaries in the organisation should be brought into the debate," she said.

Comment was also sought from the presidents of other bodies which have not disclosed the pay packages of their top executive.

However, no comment was forthcoming from president of the Law Society Simon Murphy, president of the Vintners Federation of Ireland Noreen O'Sullivan, president of the Irish Pharmacy Union Kathy Maher and from the president of the Irish Postmasters Union Paddy McCann.

There was also no response from Irish Hospital Consultants Association president Dr Gerard Crotty and from IBEC president Gerry Collins.

Irish Independent

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