Tuesday 20 February 2018

Udaras chief gets bonus despite job losses

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

THE head of the State's Gaeltacht job-creation agency was given a bonus of €3,900 last year -- despite a net loss in Gaeltacht jobs in 2009.

Udaras na Gaeltachta chief executive Padraig O hAolain was given the bonus for the January to March period of last year -- despite the general freeze on bonuses in the public sector.

According to Udaras na Gaeltachta's end-of-year review, 710 new jobs were created in companies it assisted. But employment in Udaras-assisted companies fell by 721 -- meaning there was a net loss of 11 jobs.

Mr O hAolain is being paid an annual salary of €158,000. He also has the use of a company car worth almost €40,000 (on which he had to pay a benefit-in-kind tax of €7,164).

He is due to retire at the end of this year.

Fine Gael community, rural and Gaeltacht affairs spokes-man Michael Ring criticised the payment of the bonus to Mr O hAolain.

"Everything is being cut, salaries are being cut, bonuses are being cut. There should be no bonuses for anybody, not in the time we're in for the moment. And that goes for everybody," he said.

Mr Ring said the bonus objectives for Mr O hAolain and other senior public servants had never been published -- and it appeared that senior public servants had been considering them as part of their salaries.

But he said he supported the retention of Udaras as a standalone agency, despite the State's new 20-year strategy for the Irish language recommending it be subsumed into a new national Irish language agency.

"We need Udaras to provide employment. The IDA have failed the west of Ireland and as bad as Udaras are, at least they are out their fighting and without them we would have no hope of getting jobs into the Gaeltacht," he said.

Udaras is focusing its efforts this year on preserving the jobs of the 7,472 people employed full time in the companies it assists.

Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Minister Pat Carey confirmed that Mr O hAolain had received the €3,900 bonus. "Bonuses were not payable in respect of the year 2009, except in the case of the CEO of Udaras na Gaeltachta. In that case, I am advised that a bonus of €3,900 covering the period January-March 2009 was awarded by the board of the agency, in line with an approved bonus scheme," he said.

Mr Carey also said Udaras na Gaeltachta was the only agency covered by his department that supplied its chief executive with a company car

Mr O hAolain could not be contacted for comment.

Irish Independent

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