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Public servants ‘exceptionally’ well paid, forget bonuses – taoiseach

Bonuses in the public service should not be acceptable, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today in response to revelations regarding bonuses to staff at the NTMA and NAMA.

While bonuses in the past had been paid out, but the Government had made its position on them clear and people were exceptionally well paid to do their jobs.

He said the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, was currently looking at the area of performance-related systems and that he would bring forward his report in due course.

It emerged yesterday that hundreds of staff working in NAMA and the agency overseeing it shared a bonus pot worth €2m last year.

New figures showed the majority of staff in NAMA and the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) got bonuses averaging around €7,000 each.

And around 14 people in the agencies are being paid salaries of more than €250,000 each, it emerged last night.

These staff are earning more than Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is on €200,000, and his ministers, who are on €169,000.

And their salaries are in excess of the public sector salary cap of €200,000 announced by the Government last week -- because both agencies are exempt from it.

The details on the NAMA and NTMA bonuses show that 258 staff out of a total of 306 (84pc) shared almost €2m in bonuses last year, with the average payment being €7,681 each.

Fianna Fail TD Michael McGrath, who obtained the figures, said people would be angered by the bonus payments.

But Finance Minister Michael Noonan said both agencies had the "operational freedom" to negotiate competitive salaries so they could attract people from the private sector.

In a statement, the NTMA said no bonuses were paid to the nine most senior executives in NAMA and the NTMA last year.

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The NTMA said bonuses were paid to other employees on a reduced scale.

Earlier it emerged that port bosses would not be paid bonuses for 2010 as the Government continues to pressurise semi-state chief executives to give up the payments.

Executives in the 11 port companies will not accept performance-related payments for 2010.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the "penny had dropped" with chief executives that the performance-related perks were not acceptable at a time when public spending was being slashed.

He added that all semi-states under his department were now complying with the government ban on the controversial bonuses.


"The Government's priority is we're asking all semi-state CEOs to take a voluntary pay cut of 15pc if they haven't done so already," he told the Irish Independent.

"I know that all the semi-states under my remit in Transport have confirmed they are not going to take a bonus for 2010 and that includes the port companies."

Mr Varadkar's comments come as pressure continues to mount on bosses of semi-state companies not to accept the payments. It comes after a row between the Government and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) over a €106,000 bonus awarded to its chief executive Declan Collier.

Mr Collier declined the payment last Sunday night.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday he welcomed the decision of chief executives to surrender their bonuses.

"The Government made it clear from the very beginning that everybody would have to share in the pain needed to turn this country around and that included people at the top level of earnings.

"Those earning the most need to make their contribution to turn this country around," he said.

Earlier this week Bord na Mona boss Gabriel D'Arcy said he would not collect a bonus this year, while Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins promised to surrender a €60,000 payment for last year and accept a salary cut of €15,000.

Other executives who have agreed not to take a bonus for last year include An Post boss Donal Connell and ESB chief executive Padraig McManus.

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