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Columnist has a bee in his bonnet

Sir -- I write to comment on Marc Coleman's analysis of our economic woes (Sunday Independent, Jan. 9, 2011), and, in particular, his preoccupation with 'overpay and waste in the public sector', as exemplified by professors' salaries (€108,000 to €138,600).

Marc has a bee in his bonnet about professors. I say this because he never cites examples of other public positions that are far better paid than professors, e.g. medical consultants on the new contract (€250,000+); Judges -- District Court €148,000, Circuit Court €178,000, High Court €243,000, Supreme Court €258,000; various RTE presenters (€300,000-€650,000), etc.

Furthermore, Marc does not explain that only about eight per cent of university academics (lecturers) ever reach professorial level, that the great majority of academics are paid between €36,000 and €89,400 per annum, and that you cannot even start at the bottom of he academic ladder until you are at least 30 years old, because of the long training requirements for an academic career.

If you want to cite seriously 'big' public salaries, academics are a poor example. And if you want to contemplate really enormous incomes, you must look at examples in the private sector -- where Marc himself works. And, interestingly, I recently heard Marc, who is so eager to criticise the public salaries of others, refusing to reveal his own salary on his radio programme!

Professor William Reville,

University College Cork,

Sunday Independent