| 5.7°C Dublin

No time to be a melting sugar lump

Close

Tensions have been mounting between Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Spending Minister Brendan
Howlin over applying the public service salary cap to the new secretary general at the Department of Finance.

Tensions have been mounting between Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin over applying the public service salary cap to the new secretary general at the Department of Finance.

Tensions have been mounting between Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin over applying the public service salary cap to the new secretary general at the Department of Finance.

• More than 10,000 pensioners have just received notice they are being taxed on their contributory OAP. This is the latest incursion on the aged. They already have to subscribe to the new austerity measures everybody else is compelled to endure.

In view of all this, what really vexed me was the tension a few days ago, between Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin concerning the salary cap for the new secretary general of the Department of Finance. It was nauseating!

The Government, not very long ago, put what the public believed to be an 'ironclad cap' of €200,000 on the maximum pay levels for higher positions right across the public service -- comparable to the Taoiseach's salary.

I cannot believe for one second, in the current economic climate, that this salary curve would deter any serious candidate of the right calibre -- with honesty, integrity, proficiency and ambition -- from applying.

Selecting a candidate for a top job entails far more than monetary value. Recall some of the ridiculously high salaried executives over the last 10 years and dwell on the debacle caused by their greed and inefficiency!

The secretary general's job is on a seven-year contract, long enough for a competent person to gain in experience, and over time even prove himself worthy of double his salary when the country, hopefully, will be in a better position to reward him.

Only recently, Mr Noonan already breached the much-vaunted salary ceiling at the behest of Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan. It's about time he displayed the steely tenacity of his cabinet colleague, Mr Howlin -- rather than become a melting sugar-lump at the hands of the mighty -- while still administering the nation's finances.

James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent