Taoiseach criticised for failure to provide details on €292k salary for next health chief

Several Government figures fail to respond to committee’s requests on the issue

The Taoiseach and other senior Government figures have been criticised for failing to provide details on the process on deciding on a new €292,000-a-year salary for the next Department of Health secretary general.

The Oireachtas committee on finance sought written submissions from Taoiseach Micheál Martin and others as it conducts an investigation into the decision and the broader issue of pay levels for senior public servants.

The €292,000 salary for the next Department of Health secretary general is a pay increase for the role of more than €80,000.

The committee is also examining the process of appointing former Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) secretary general Robert Watt as Department of Health interim secretary general while an open competition is being held to permanently fill the secretary general role at the Department of Health.

Committee chairman and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said at the committee's meeting on Tuesday that the requests for written submissions were sent out on March 5th with a March 19th deadline.

Five responses have been received to date, from Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath, the acting secretary general of DPER David Moloney, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, the Public Appointments Service and the Commission for Public Service Appointments.


Mr McGuinness said that despite a reminder issued last week, no response has been received from Mr Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser, Mr Watt and the Top Level Appointments Committee.

He said that at a private meeting the committee “noted its disappointment at the lack of engagement on the part of these senior politicians and civil servants and what it considers a lack of respect shown to the work being undertaken by the committee”.

Mr McGuinness said a formal reminder and request for engagement will be issued to those that did not respond.

He added: "It is simply not good enough that the work of a committee would be held up by such senior figures in politics and the civil service and I would encourage them to reply to the reminder as quickly as possible as we intend to move on, in detail, with the work that we have agreed to undertake with the Public Accounts Committee. "

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times