Saturday 20 January 2018

Reilly facing questions over ex-IMO chief's €10m deal

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

HEALTH Minister James Reilly is expected to be interviewed about the controversial pay and pensions deal for the former chief executive of doctors' union, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

Dr Reilly will most likely be among a group of doctors questioned by external reviewers about their role in awarding George McNeice a remuneration package in 2003.

Mr McNeice (52) was able to leave recently with a retirement deal worth nearly €10m.

He will receive a €1.5m lump sum this month and a pension pot of €4.5m, plus €200,000 a year from 2016 to 2021, rising to €250,000 a year from 2021 to 2032.

Dr Reilly, who was an influential IMO activist as a working GP, was on the remuneration committee in 2003 that sanctioned the package for Mr McNeice, though it was negotiated by another doctor, now deceased.

Dr Reilly, a former IMO president, faces a showdown with doctors at the organisation's annual meeting in Killarney after Easter, but it is unclear if he will address delegates, as is traditional.

A review of the running of the union over 20 years is to be carried out by external auditors. It was sanctioned at an emergency general meeting (EGM) of the IMO in Dublin at the weekend.

The meeting was told Mr McNeice is demanding that the IMO pay his family's health insurance bill of nearly €10,000 for 2013 and give him a painting worth several thousand euro.

He claims he owns the painting, which was gifted to him by the late IMO president Dr Cormac Macnamara, who negotiated his remuneration in 2003.

The current president, Dr Paul McKeown, said the painting is hanging in IMO headquarters in Dublin's Fitzwilliam Place.

It is understood that Mr McNeice, who was given a Mercedes car by the IMO, will have to hand it back as part of his retirement deal.

Only 150 doctors turned up at the weekend, despite the union having around 5,000 members.

Disappointed

Dublin GP Dr Cathal O Suilleabhain, who secured the necessary signatures to hold the meeting, told the Irish Independent he was extremely disappointed at the turnout.

The original motions, on which members based their call for an EGM, were aimed at getting the minutes of IMO committee meetings and giving doctors an oversight role in the review. But these were deemed "illegal" by the union's ruling council, and they put forward their own instead.

The review, which will go out to tender, is supposed to show "who knew what and when". To date, no doctor or union official has admitted they were aware of Mr McNeice's salary and pension.

Dr McKeown said doctors had submitted motions to the union's AGM over the years asking that Mr McNeice's remuneration package be disclosed, but they were privately shelved because they contained elements which were "illegal".

Irish Independent

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