Harris targets payments breaching public sector salary rules

Gino Kenny calls for St John of God’s chief and executives receiving bonuses to resign

 Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath called on members of the Public Accounts Committee  to question the St John of God’s executives in  wake of revelations. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath called on members of the Public Accounts Committee to question the St John of God’s executives in wake of revelations. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris said in the Dáil any payments which have breached public sector salary rules would have to be returned.

Mr Harris told Fianna Fáil’s James Browne “we cannot have a situation whereby some people working in St John of God’s are earning salaries lower than that of the chief executive and are subject to the Fempi (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act while people at the very top are earning large salaries and are not subject to it”.

State funding to agencies under section 38 of the Health Act, 2004 ranged from just over €2 million to the Daughters of Charity to almost €357 million to St James’s Hospital.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said the organisation’s St John of God’s chief executive John Pepper “and all the executives getting the bonuses should resign.

“They have no shame because nobody can justify that amount of money, particularly an organisation like St John of Gods,” he said.

Mr Kenny, who previously worked for the organisation said ordinary people “work in hospitals in services, work really, really hard and get a fraction of that”.

The Department of Health is investigating pay and pension top-ups of €1.64 million for senior executives in St John of God’s.

Senior management from the St John of God organisation are due to appear before the Public Accounts Committee on Friday.

Revelations

Mr McGrath said “we need to clean up the services” and “deal with the issue of excessive pay”.

He pointed out that St John of God received €132.4 million from the taxpayer and it was time “to get away from the charity” model of services for those with disabilities.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald earlier said all section 38 organisations would be investigated by outside consultants for the department and six reviews were underway. Forty four agencies provide health and social services on behalf of the HSE under section 38 of the 2004 Health Act and receive €2.5 billion from the State.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin suggested the Tánaiste could not confirm all the agencies were in full compliance with HSE requirements, and that they adhered now to Department of health pay scales.

Ms Fitzgerald said the agencies had signed compliance statements but the department “is providing another layer to examine the area once again with external consultants”.