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Varadkar made little effort to stop DAA boss from leaving

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar made little attempt to retain outgoing Dublin Airport boss Declan Collier during talks to renew his contract, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Newly released documents show that Mr Varadkar gave Mr Collier little choice but to leave, with a salary offer that would have cut his pay by more than €400,000 from its peak.

Despite the minister last month saying he was "disappointed" to see Mr Collier leave, it has emerged that Mr Varadkar's offer to the airport executive didn't even match the €250,000 salary cap allowed for semi-state bosses.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman has confirmed that the pay packet on offer was in fact "significantly below €250,000", though she would not divulge the actual sum.

The offer came as Mr Collier was on the verge of accepting a £410,000-a-year (€493,000) job as CEO of London City Airport.

The new salary being offered by Mr Varadkar's department was more than €400,000 less than Mr Collier's €698,000 DAA pay packet in 2007.

This pay packet had gone down to €521,500 in 2010, with the minister last summer forcing the DAA boss to return an additional €100,000 in bonuses he was paid for the same year.

The bonus was handed back and the embarrassing row was brought to a close after Mr Varadkar threatened to sack members of the DAA board.

Mr Collier's tenure at the DAA saw the opening of Pier D and Terminal 2, among other projects, with the organisation racking up €1.2bn in debt.

Details of the negotiations emerged in newly released correspondence between the Department of Transport and the DAA.

The new terms on offer to Mr Collier were outlined in a brief email sent to the DAA by Mr Varadkar's department. Secretary general Tom O'Mahony emailed the DAA's deputy chief executive Oliver Cussen on Friday, November 11, outlining the terms of renewing Mr Collier's contract.

Mr O'Mahony describes the new terms, which are blacked out in the documents released to the Irish Independent.

Despite the redaction, the Department of Transport confirmed last night that the pay packet on offer was "significantly below €250,000".

Mr Cussen responded to the email at 9.47 that night to say that he had forwarded the offer to Mr Collier, the terms of which he subsequently rejected.


London City Airport announced Mr Collier's appointment on Tuesday, November 15, and he is due to take up the position in April.

Asked to explain why the department's offer didn't even amount to the €250,000 salary cap, a spokesman for Mr Varadkar said the terms were offered "according to the government pay scale for this job".

He rejected the suggestion that the offer resulted from government embarrassment over Mr Collier's 2010 bonus saying: "No. The only embarrassment arising from this incident was caused to the DAA."

Mr Collier, meanwhile, refused to comment, with a DAA spokesman saying it was a "private matter".

Irish Independent