Doctors leave IMO over €20m package for chief


A number of doctors have taken to social media sites such as Twitter over the weekend to announce their resignation from the Irish Medical Organisation in the wake of revelations about the remuneration package enjoyed by retired chief executive George McNeice.

There is palpable anger from doctors of all craft groups at the news that the financial stability of the union had been threatened by its €20 million liability in pensions and other benefits for its chief officer.

In a statement, IMO president Dr Paul McKeown said it had succeeded in reducing this liability to €9.7 million following negotiations with Mr McNeice, which also secured his resignation.

Doctors expressed annoyance that their substantial annual subscriptions, in the region of €1,250 for GPs and €800 for junior doctors, may be required to fund the substantial settlement. Dr McKeown said it had been established on the basis of independent taxation and actuarial advice Mr McNeice had contractual entitlements to provisions of about €20 million.

“The settlement negotiated by the IMO reduced the cost of the settlement to approximately €9.7 million – including a pension fund of approximately €4.5 million, a contractual termination payment of €1.5 million and delayed pension payments of €3.75 million (representing a cost of €2.6 million at today’s values).”

Some doctors voiced their shock to The Irish Times. “The IMO has been damaged and there is a need now for a root-and-branch review,” one prominent member said. Another expressed a hope the organisation would go through a process of renewal but not before “a full review”.

Others said they were concerned the IMO could lose its union negotiating rights. Acknowledging the disquiet among members, Dr McKeown said: “I share the anger which I have no doubt all members will feel in relation to this matter.”

The IMO acknowledged that Mr McNeice acted within his rights given his contractual entitlements. Dr McKeown has reassured the 5,000 members of the doctors’ representative organisation that their future membership subscriptions are protected and will not be required to finance the deal.

It is understood an extraordinary general meeting of members will take place in January.