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Coalition TDs in revolt over bankers' pay

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan is facing a pre-Budget crisis as coalition TDs demand cuts to the salaries and pensions of bank executives.

Mr Noonan has now instructed his officials to examine "all possible ways" of tackling the massive remuneration packages footed by the taxpayer.

The minister has been inundated with demands from furious backbenchers to introduce measures in time for December's Budget.

TDs from both Fine Gael and Labour are demanding that "exceptional measures" be brought in to ensure that the pension packages are radically reduced.

They also want the finance minister to contact IBRC chief Alan Dukes to request that the bank's senior staff take significant wage cuts.

Among the deputies demanding action are Fine Gael's Olivia Mitchell, Derek Keating, Eoghan Murphy, Brendan Griffin, Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Alan Farrell, as well as Labour's Joanna Tuffy and Robert Dowds.

Mr Noonan is thought to be seeking legal advice over whether a special tax can be brought to cut annual pensions.

Sources say the matter is complex because the pension agreements of former executives are 'legally untouchable'.



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However officials in the department are examining whether there is scope to introduce a levy.

Junior finance minister Brian Hayes said the matter is being looked at "very closely".

"We completely understand the absolute anger over this and people are right to feel angry. They are hopping mad over these pensions. The dilemma is, however, that these are contracts signed under the previous government," he said.

"It is very difficult to go after one group of people and there could be a constitutional challenge against that," he added.

But any scenario where Mr Noonan is unable to guarantee action on the pension and salary issue is likely to lead to a backlash from TDs.

Fine Gael TD Derek Keating said the revelation that six IBRC executives are on salaries in excess of €500,000 is "disgusting".

"I am absolutely appalled; I have rarely come across something so disgusting.

"It is incumbent on the minister to do something about this in time for the Budget," he said.

His Dublin colleague, Olivia Mitchell TD, said she did not believe some ministers were "aware" of how much public anger the revelations have caused.

"People are just through the walls with anger over this and it is absolutely necessary that we see prompt action," she told the Herald.

hnews@herald.ie


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