Burton admits early retirement problems


EARLY RETIREMENTS from the public service have caused difficulties for some departments, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said in response to the controversy over rehiring retired staff.

Ms Burton said the Coalition was honouring the commitments entered into by the previous government.

“We inherited through Croke Park the mechanism of people having an option to retire ahead of time, and obviously that was very attractive to people, particularly in their late 50s and early 60s, and it was their choice as to whether or not to avail of that. And we honoured the commitments that had been entered into by the previous government . . .

“I think Government has been able to deal with it very well, but obviously in some departments the loss of key personnel at relatively short notice has caused difficulties.”

Ms Burton defended her department’s rehiring of the chief medical officer, who had retired earlier in the year, on a salary of up to €102,152. “We asked one very important official, the chief medical officer who announced he was going to retire, that he would make his services available to us for a number of months while arrangements were put in place to provide for a replacement.

“Obviously in the case of retiring civil servants the Government by and large didn’t get very much advance notice, so certainly in terms of the Department of Social Protection the role of the chief medical officer is a very critical and important one, and I was anxious to see continuity and for a period of time avail of his very expert services while we put in place the search for a replacement.”

Ms Burton was speaking after a Labour Women event in Dublin.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has rehired seven former senior officials, while Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has appointed four former senior officials. At the Department of Agriculture 59 retired veterinary staff members serve as temporary inspectors.