Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Éamon Ó Cuív has called for clarity on the Government’s position regarding the €318,000 annual salary that has been granted to the new ESB Chief Executive Pat O’Doherty.  Deputy Ó Cuív was commenting after Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore claimed he is ‘not happy’ about the move, despite the fact that his colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, approved the salary level which is €68,000 above the general salary cap for new chief executives in semi-state companies.
 
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “Serious questions must be asked about why the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin approved a salary far in excess of the general semi-state pay cap, when the Tánaiste claims he is not happy about it.  We have yet to hear from Minister Howlin or the Taoiseach about how they can justify such a significant salary excess, at a time when ordinary ESB workers are concerned about their jobs as the Government pushes ahead with part-privatisation plans.
 
“This latest abandonment of promises comes on the back of the u-turn on pay for special advisors to Labour and Fine Gael Ministers. The Government has breached its own guidelines by paying 14 advisors more than the recommended salary.  In the case of 6 of these advisors, the general pay cap of €92,000 has been breached.
 
“This is a spectacular series of u-turns from Fine Gael and Labour. It is an issue that they felt very strongly about just a few months ago but those principles appear to have abandoned completely.  I fully understand why the Government is legally prevented from cutting significantly the salaries of some semi-state bosses on existing contracts. But the taxpayers deserve an explanation about why the pay cap has been breached for a new contract.
 
“It is ironic on the day the Government seeks power to cut judges pay that they are  justifying a salary of this size for a semi-state chief.”