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Backbencher outrage over ESB chief's €800k retirement package

ESB insiders have said that their former chief executive was close to tears at his retirement party earlier this month.

But it was Opposition TDs who were today crying for the Government to slash Padraig McManus's incredible €800k golden parachute.

It has emerged that avid golfer McManus (60) is entitled to cut-price electricity -- on top of a lucrative retirement package.

As new figures show that over 315,000 ESB customers are struggling with arrears, the former energy chief will have no concerns about his electricity bills for the rest of his life.

McManus -- who retired before Christmas -- is now enjoying his golden handshake of around €800,000.

"He choked up a little bit telling a few stories at his retirement bash," said one insider. "Many felt, God, what's he like that for, he's heading into the sunset with an enormous package.

"He was very critical of the media. Maybe he knew there would be this hue and cry about his massive pension," the source said.

Today the ESB has confirmed that he is entitled to half-price electricity for the remainder of his life as part of its "staff discount scheme".

The news has caused considerable unrest among both Fine Gael and Labour TDs, with one deputy today describing the perk as a social injustice.

Meanwhile, the Herald can reveal that the pension packages and additional perks being reaped by former civil servants has caused deep unrest among backbench TDs.

Galway East Labour TD Colm Keaveney admitted that he is "furious" at the package -- describing it as the perk of a "crony contract".

"People are extremely angry at this. I'm furious to be honest, who wouldn't be. This is just not palatable anymore. To see people like Padraig McManus ride off into the sunset with €800,000 and free electricity is a social injustice."

Senior Fine Gael sources have told the Herald that the issue is "certain" to be raised at the next parliamentary party meeting.

The party's Carlow/Kilkenny TD Pat Deering today dubbed the package "astronomical".