Kenny unaware if retired senior public servants rehired by Irish Water

Howlin believes performance-related pay is important

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he does not know if former local authority employees with pensions were hired at a senior level in Irish Water. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he does not know if former local authority employees with pensions were hired at a senior level in Irish Water. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 12:55

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he does not know if former local authority employees with pensions were hired at a senior level in Irish Water.

He was replying in the Dáil today to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said some of those involved had been paid lump sums of €340,000 and €270,000 and were also in receipt of generous pensions.

Mr Kenny said he did not have that kind of detail, adding that Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan had written formally to Irish Water chief executive John Tierney looking for details of remuneration policies.

“When that information is supplied to the Minister, it will be made public,’’ he added.

Mr Martin said Mr Kenny had refused to answer questions on the issue yesterday and Irish Water has also refused to confirm or deny it. “Do you think it is right that this should happen ?’’ he added.

Mr Kenny denied he was refusing to answer the question, repeating that the information would be made public when it became available.

Mr Martin said Mr Kenny did know the answers and knew the story. “And what I have said is fact,’’ he added.

Earlier, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin re-iterated his view that “we should get back to performance-related pay”.

Mr Howlin said it was easy to “make the notion of a bonus as something that’s unacceptable”, but performance-related pay was the norm in the commercial sector.

He told the Dáil that performance-related schemes had been suspended since 2011 and would continue indefinitely in suspension for both new and incumbent chief executives in State companies.

The no-bonus policy introduced in 2011 is reviewed annually, but he believed “we should get back to performance-related pay”.

Mr Howlin said however he had no role in performance-related schemes below the level of chief executive in commercial semi-state companies.

But he said the boards of companies should act responsibly in designing and awarding bonuses.

Sinn Féin public expenditure and reform spokeswoman Mary Lou McDonald pointed to the € 7,000 average bonus payment expected to be paid to Irish Water workers but asked what was the minimum bonus and the maximum.

Mr Howlin said he did not know what the individual bonuses were and it was a question for the Minister for the Environment.