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Port boss given €800k bonus -- but it's Bord Snip for other chiefs

A semi-State company topped up its retiring chief executive's pension by €800,000 -- while the heads at other semi-States are facing possible pay cuts.

Dublin Port Company made the pension payout to chief executive Enda Connellan, who steps down on Friday.

It was on top of a basic salary of €239,000 he received last year, but he was also paid director's fees of €12,000, and other benefits totalling €66,000, bringing his total pay packet to €317,000 in 2009 -- a significant rise on the €222,000 he was paid in 2008.

The company did not seek permission from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan before awarding the tax free top-up to Mr Connellan because there is currently no legal requirement for it to do so.

Dublin Port's annual accounts reveal Mr Connellan was given a pension top-up of €802,000 which is tax-free.

"The chief executive retired on December 2, 2009. In addition to the above amounts a past service pension cost of €802,000 arose in 2009," the company accounts state.

Mr Connellan announced his retirement last December but was asked to stay on until a replacement was found.

He worked for the company for 33 years in total, leaving him seven years short of the standard 40 years service many pension schemes require to qualify for a full pension.

Pension experts said it was likely Mr Connellan was given the €800,000 top-up to make up the remaining seven years of service and bring his pension up to 40 years' value.

Dublin Port Company confirmed that "added years" had been given to Mr Connellan through the pension top-up, but refused to say what his overall pension package was worth.

Fine Gael's communications spokesman Leo Varadkar said Mr Connellan's pension top-up was another example of out dated practices in the semi-State sector.

"There has been a 'Bord Snip' for the public sector but nothing for the semi-States," he said.

Now chief executives of semi-state companies like Bord Gais, the ESB, An Post and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) are facing possible pay cuts after the Finance Minister, Mr Lenihan, ordered a review.



Levy

Unlike the public sector, staff at semi-State bodies escaped the pension levy and pay cuts imposed by Mr Lenihan, who now wants to review pay, bonuses, and pension arrangements for top management at semi-state companies.

ESB chief executive Padraig McManus was paid €750,000 last year, according to the company's annual report, despite taking a 10pc pay cut.

Bosses at An Post and the DAA also earned around €500,000 each, more than double the salary of Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

A spokesman for Mr Lenihan said a uniform cut may not be implemented on all chief executives, but salaries could be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar published findings of what he said was a detailed survey of the Irish semi-State sector.

There is an annual turnover of almost €10bn in the sector, but only six of the biggest commercial companies paid a dividend to the State, he said.

There were 42,301 employed in the semi-States, with average pay varying from under €40,000 a year at An Post to over €135,000 at the Irish Aviation Authority, he found.

mlavery@herald.ie


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