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John Drennan: IMF slams 'outrageous' public pay rates

The EU and the IMF are carrying out an intensive investigation into Irish public sector pay.

As part of this process, high-level European and IMF bureaucrats have compiled a list of top-level public sector pay and are believed to be deeply unimpressed by the huge disparities between the packages secured by European public sector mandarins and their Irish counterparts.

A series of recent surveys by government bodies such as Forfas has revealed that Ireland's doctors, nurses, police and teachers are among the highest-paid public servants in the world.

Top Irish professionals such as university lecturers, judges and hospital consultants earn twice as much as their European counterparts and Ireland also has the highest-paid electricity workers in the world.

Top European bankers such as Jean-Claude Trichet have pointed out these disparities to Irish ministers complaining about the high interest rate on the IMF/EU/ECB bailout.

The figures, which have been compiled by the EU and the IMF, also reveal that over recent years, the rate of increases in Irish public sector wages has been 100 per cent higher than that experienced by other EU countries.

Senior politicians told the Sunday Independent that, during increasingly acerbic meetings with the EU and the IMF, the comparison is regularly cited.

One former government minister admitted that on one occasion, a senior EU official told him that "within Europe, you Irish are seen as being worse than the Greeks''.

The growing EU/IMF hostility towards Irish public sector pay levels means that should Ireland be forced to renegotiate, or even simply comply with the current terms of our bailout, top public sector workers will face swingeing pay cuts.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, the Labour Minister in charge of Public Service Reform Brendan Howlin made it clear that his "priority was to protect frontline and low-paid public sector jobs''.

The reduction in politicians' pay announced on the formation of the Government means that Taoiseach Enda Kenny now earns less than Dermot Mc Carthy, Secretary-General to the Government.

The reduction in ministerial pay has also created the rather unique scenario where all ministers now earn substantially less than the civil servants they are in control of, while semi-state bosses earn multiples of what their political bosses secure.

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Pressure is likely to increase on the latter grouping in the light of their decision to 'snub' Brian Lenihan's budgetary call for public sector bosses to take a voluntary reduction in their pay to €250,000.

But outside of Dick Fearn in Irish Rail and Noel Curran of RTE, both of whom still earn €50,000 more than Mr Kenny, top earners such as Coillte's David Kenny, An Post's Donal Connell and Declan Collier of the Dublin Airport Authority earn up to twice as much as much as their ministerial bosses.