April 20, 2021
Temporary waiving of ‘berserk’ salary increase must be made permanent – Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell TD has branded the waiving of the €81,000 salary increase by the newly appointed Secretary General of the Department of Health Robert Watt as a cynical move and said that the temporary waiving should instead be made permanent. 

Teachta Farrell said:

“The waiving today by Mr Watt of the outrageous salary increase on a temporary basis must be made permanent. The waiving of this increase quite clearly indicates that the increase was never needed. That there was in fact an applicant willing to take this position at the previous level of pay.

“We shouldn’t forget that the top civil service pay scale is already €211,000. Mr Watt will still be entitled to a Golden Handshake lump sum payment when he leaves, which is up to 1.5 times the final year salary. If he were to remain on the top scale and not take the 81k increase, he would still leave with a Golden Handshake lump sum payment of €316k and an annual pension which is 50% his final year salary (€105k).

“These are berserk sums of money for ordinary people. If you are someone on the minimum wage your last increase was just 30 cents an hour.

“The entire process by which the salary was set was seriously deficient. When the decision was taken to exceed the salary caps we were told that this was needed to attract international talent, however, there has been no clear explanation as to what benchmarking was done of the salary against international comparators. We are still not even sure if there were any international applicants. 

“Indeed, within the Public Services Stability Agreement it states clearly that lateral moves do not allow for salary increases, which this has now become, but this has been ignored. Minister McGrath likes to talk about the need for fiscal prudence, but no serious risk analysis undertaken of the knock effects for similar pay demands by other top civil servants. So it seems like a flawed process led to a flawed outcome.

“If the government now wants to demonstrate that they are serious about this, and restore public confidence, then for this ‘waiver’ to have any credibility it must be made permanent.”

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