Seen & Heard: Merger talks between Coillte and Bord na Móna break down

Former Coillte chief executive David Gunning sues State body

Coillte is in the wars on two fronts, according to reports in the Sunday papers. The State forestry group is being merged with Bord na Móna but, according to the Sunday Times, talks between the two sides have broken down over the scale of savings that can be secured at head-office level.

The two State bodies had identified savings of €20 million from the merger, with half of that coming from head-office costs. However, the report says, it is understood that Coillte has objected to aspects of the costcutting proposals.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent reports that former Coillte chief executive David Gunning has begun a lawsuit against the State agency over the terms of his departure from the business.

Gunning, who served as chief executive from 2006 until last March and who was one of the highest paid semi- State executives – with earnings of up to €489,000 in one year – is understood to argue that he is still owed money by his former employer.

Pension changes considered
Moves to amend the priority order on pensions are under way, the Sunday Times reports, in a move that could reduce the pensions of thousands of retired people across the State.

The paper reports that Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is finalising legislation to amend the order in which the rights of members of private-sector pension schemes are protected in the event of the scheme winding up with a shortfall. Last May she stepped back from plans for such reform in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act.

At present, those already retired take precedence if a scheme is wound up – and receive their full entitlement. People still working, or who have left the business but not retired (deferred members), share what is left, if anything.

The paper says the proposals are being studied by Attor- ney General Máire Whelan before going to Cabinet.

Britain's Anglo awareness
Britain knew Anglo Irish Bank would be bailed out before anyone in Ireland was made aware, the Sunday Independent reports. Citing documents released by the UK treasury under Britain's Freedom of Information Act, the paper reports that the UK was made aware of the concern in the Central Bank that Anglo might not be able to meet its funding requirements and that the State would not allow it to fail.

The timing indicates the communication was made hours before then minister for finance Brian Lenihan even met advisers on the financial crisis, after which a blanket guarantee for Ireland's banks was agreed overnight.

Credit union gagging order
The Central Bank will apply to the High Court this week to lift a gagging order on the Newbridge Credit Union case, the Sunday Business Post reports.

Removing the court-imposed restrictions will allow further details on the case to emerge, including allowing the bank to publish the report of the special administrator into the lending and governance practices at the credit union.