Minister to bring proposals on senior level pay


THE GOVERNMENT’S review of top-level pay in the public service and in commercial and non-commercial State companies will encompass all personnel earning more than €200,000 per year.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin is expected to bring proposals on “appropriate levels” of pay at senior level to Cabinet this month.

The Government has consistently declined to specify the grades covered by the new review other than to say that they were at “senior” level.

However, Government sources said at the weekend that the review – which is being carried out internally in the Department of Finance/Department of Public Expenditure – will cover personnel earning more than €200,000.

This is the level at which the Government pitched the salary of Taoiseach Enda Kenny immediately after the general election.

The Dáil was told in April by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that 28 people in the public service, commercial and non-commercial State sector earned more than €250,000 per year.

The top earners include nine employees of commercial State companies, one paid by the Oireachtas, five staff of non-commercial State agencies, four people in the education sector and nine judges.

The group includes President Mary McAleese, the Chief Justice and High Court judges, the chief executive of the HSE and the chief executive of the National Roads Authority.

A number of hospital consultants also receive more than €250,000.

However, they will not be covered by the review as Minister for Health James Reilly is already committed to reducing remuneration in this area under separate reforms, informed sources said.

Mr Howlin last week signalled that serving top-level staff in the civil and public service, as well as in commercial State companies, could face pay cuts under his proposals.

He told the Dáil that current incumbents would form part of the current review of top-level pay that is under way.

“On the more general issue of the appropriate level of senior pay in the public service, I am currently reviewing the current provisions in place, including those for current incumbents, and I will be bringing proposals to Government shortly.”

This is the first time the Minister has signalled in a speech that any pay cuts could affect serving personnel.

Previously Mr Howlin has said he proposed to give further consideration as to how best to bring about reductions in the remuneration of senior public sector posts, including the chief executives of commercial State companies.

The Minister acknowledged that there might be contractual issues in relation to the application of any cap to current incumbents.

The recent report of the Review Group on State Assets found chief executives in 10 commercial State companies shared nearly €4.4 million in pay and benefits in 2009.

It said the chief executive of the ESB received a total package of more than €752,000 in 2009, while the chief executives at the Dublin Airport Authority and An Post received more than €500,000 each.