Thursday 15 November 2018

They presided over the crash -- but no one was ever fired

DANIEL McCONNELL, Chief Reporter

An "endemic culture of rewarding failure" in Ireland has meant that not one person in the Department of Finance, the Central Bank or the Financial Regulator's office has been sacked for their role in the worst financial and economic crisis in history.

While their former political masters in Fianna Fail were slaughtered at the polls in February, it has been confirmed to this newspaper this weekend that not a single official or adviser was laid off for their failure either to adequately prepare for the crash, or for their failure to deal swiftly with it when it happened.

"Nobody in the Department of Finance has been fired since January 2008," a spokeswoman told the Sunday Independent.

Friends First chief economist Jim Power said that while many of those who were in key positions during the crash have since moved on or retired, their departure has come at a significant cost to the taxpayer.

"There is an endemic culture here in Ireland of rewarding failure, and it is not restricted to the public sector. Look at Brian Goggin in Bank of Ireland."

Mr Power said the fact that no one has been fired is a damming indictment of how things are done here and the taxpayer always pays to remove underperforming people.

"That no one has been fired is typical of how things are done in Ireland, but there has been a clear-out of those who underperformed. The only thing is they have all been paid off handsomely for stepping down," he said.

Mr Power did say that there seemed to be a move to promote younger promising talent to senior positions within the civil service.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator said that there has been a significant restructuring of the organisation since 2008.

The present governor, Patrick Honohan, replaced John Hurley while Matthew Elderfield was brought in from Bermuda to replace the widely disgraced regulator Pat Neary. Both Mr Neary and Mr Hurley received substantial pay-offs to depart.

Mr Neary, who retired in 2008, got a massive €630,000 pay-off. This was despite his office having knowledge about the secret directors' loans of up to €129m to ex-Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick for at least 11 months.

Under the terms of his contract, Mr Neary will also receive a guaranteed public service pension of almost €143,000 a year, €2,750 per week, for the rest of his life.

Last year, the Department of Finance's top official at the time of the bank guarantee received a pension top-up worth €725,000 in added years on his retirement earlier this year, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

As a result, David Doyle, who stepped down at the age of 60 at the beginning of February 2010, walked away with an initial golden handshake worth almost €600,000 and has seen the value of his pension increased significantly.

His top-up and severance payment are among a number included in a €10.5m pension lump sum payout to top civil servants by all government departments since 2005.

Sunday Independent

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