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Saturday 18 November 2017

State spending watchdog to retire with €500,000 exit package

Anne-Marie Walsh and Fiach Kelly

THE state spending watchdog will retire today with an exit package worth over €500,000 by avoiding cuts that will hit pensions later this week.

Comptroller and Auditor General John Buckley will retire on €126,000 a year, on top of a lump sum of around €380,000.

Mr Buckley will save thousands of euro by leaving now.

He is one of the highest-paid public servants to avail of a generous pension regime that ends this week. After Thursday, public servants will retire on pensions based on their wages after a pay cut.

Although their wages were slashed in 2010, their pensions continue to be based on their salaries before the pay cut -- until March 1.

Mr Buckley took a voluntary pay cut to a €200,000 public sector salary cap, but his pension is based on his annual salary of €253,635 before the government-imposed pay cut.

Like other public sector pensioners, Mr Buckley will take a cut to his annual pension, which is up to 20pc on the amount over €100,000. The first €200,000 of his lump sum is tax-free but he will pay tax at 20pc on the remainder.

Mr Buckley told the Government last month that he intended to retire at 63 following 45 years in the civil service.

His pension is well above that of Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby.

Mr Appleby will get €73,000 a year and a €225,000 lump sum following 39 years service when he retires.

He has agreed to remain on for an extra six months to head an ongoing Anglo Irish Bank investigation until his replacement is found.

Mr Buckley was appointed in 2008 and was instrumental in investigating excessive spending at FAS. His resignation has been accepted by President Michael D Higgins and he officially steps down today.

Last week, Dail Public Accounts Committee Chairman John McGuinness paid tribute to Mr Buckley, when the latter attended his last meeting.

Mr McGuinness said Mr Buckley's greatest contribution was the "heavy lifting" he did during the DIRT tax inquiry, which recouped €2.6bn for the State.

Irish Independent

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