Friday 23 February 2018

McCarthy counts pension blessings

Dermot McCarthy retired from the civil service on a generous pension, but at 57 his story is far from over, writes Liam Collins

The most powerful civil servant in the country, rotund Dermot McCarthy, whose retirement package of a €570,000 'golden goodbye' and a pension of €142,000 a year was revealed last week, presided over social partnership, benchmarking and the Croke Park agreement during his 11 years in Merrion Street.

Known semi-affectionately by Brian Lenihan as 'The Cardinal', McCarthy was a career civil servant who served under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen and was at the epicentre of the last three Fianna Fail administrations. He replaced Frank Murray as Secretary General to the Government in January 2000, and consolidated his power in July 2001 when, with the retirement of the Secretary to the Department of the Taoiseach Dermot Gallagher (DAG, to his colleagues), the two positions were combined into one big job.

Born in Dublin, Dermot McCarthy attended school in the Christian Brothers Synge Street, and at the age of 16 won an essay competition on the benefits of the EU, which he later said influenced him to join the civil service. He then went to Trinity College, from where he graduated with a BA and a Masters in Literature.

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