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Laois TD’s committee to investigate as new Department of Health secretary general role to receive €90,000 pay rise

Brian Stanley

The Public Accounts Committee, of which Laois TD Brian Stanley is the chairman, is to investigate following a government decision to increase the salary of a top civil servant role in the Department of Health by €90,000.

On Saturday, it was revealed that new secretary general of the Department of Health will become highest-paid civil servant in the country.

The post, which is being advertised by open competition, is to attract a salary of €292,000 per annum – which is €81,000 higher than the top pay scale.

Last week, the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, was appointed as interim secretary general of the Department of Health pending the appointment process.

Mr Watt is being paid his existing Department of Public Expenditure salary of €211,000 per year.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley has called for further examination of a number of questions about the appointment process and the substantial increase in salary for the role.

He said: “The recent appointment of the new Secretary General of the Department of Health is of significant public interest considering the importance of the role and the unprecedented salary attached.

“I believe that it is a matter of interest for the PAC and I will be asking members to consider it for our work programme.

“At a time when hundreds of workers are receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and student nurses are being given a paltry €100 per week, this huge increase in salary for a Departmental Secretary General is in poor taste.

“We need to understand where this salary fits in with the public pay scale guidelines and whether it satisfies the Public Service Pay Commission.

“We need to know more about the appointment process – were individuals headhunted and encouraged to apply, how long was the role publicly advertised and how many individuals were interviewed?

“Did the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health play a role in the decision and did they sanction this pay increase?

“The PAC has an important role to play in teasing out the answers to these questions and it is my intention to obtain the agreement of the members this week to pursue the matter further.”

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