Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell TD has called on the Secretary General of the Department of Health Robert Watt to clarify whether he is still waiving his massive salary increase, which led to a public outcry last year.
Teachta Farrell stated that this should be done for the sake of transparency and public confidence, and also out of respect for the extensive joint report published by the Finance Committee and Public Accounts Committee.
Among many shortcomings in the recruitment process, the Processes and Procedures Applying to the Appointment of Senior Executives in the Public Service Report found that the salary was set in a non-transparent fashion, and that it was not benchmarked against similar positions in other countries.
Teachta Farrell said:
“Given that the salary of Mr Watt could now be as high as €294,920, and his massive increase is now likely to set off similar demands for increases among other high-ranking civil servants, it now needs to be clarified whether he is continuing to waive this increase or has since accepted the full salary.
“The joint report by the Finance Committee and Public Accounts committee was very critical of the entire process that decided the salary, the excess of which led to justifiable public anger.
“The joint report, issued in November, was an extensive and detailed piece of work. Running at 258 pages, it reflected the hard work that both committees undertook to try to resolve the clear shortcomings that take place with processes and procedures of public service recruitment and the setting of remuneration.
“I wrote to Minister McGrath last week to ask him whether he will be enacting the recommendations of the report.
“The Minister said he is conducting his own review into these issues, but that the recommendations of the committee’s report will form an important part of his review.
“I hope this is not another review being taken in lieu of action.
“We already have a 258-page report into the matter; the Minister now needs to set a deadline by which he must reveal if and when he will be implementing the report’s recommendations.”