Bankrupted Irish property speculators are being paid ‘salaries’ of up to 200,000 euro (US$280,000) a year by the Dublin government, it was revealed this week.
NAMA chairman Frank Daly, head of the state’s highly controversial asset management agency, or bad bank, told a parliamentary committee that an average salary of about 100,000 euro (US$140,000) was being paid to developers. He said it was a commercial decision to retain the best-placed people to recover the value of the bad debt for the State.
“It is a hard decision and one we agonise over,” he said.
Confirmation that payments are being made to speculators has revived fears that the NAMA agency is operating as a wealth creation mechanism for a small group of well-connected people.
There was also a separate pay scandal this week over the Dublin government’s practice of granting six- and seven-figure ‘severance gratuities’ to senior civil servants.
Recently retired Secretary General to the Department of An Taoiseach Dermot McCarthy (57) received a giant 713,000 euro (US$974,000) payoff in July.
Following public anger at the scale of the payment, the 26-County Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his Ministers claimed the payments were outside of their control. It was later suggested McCarthy could also be appointed as the 26-County state’s Ambassador to the Vatican, despite his resignation.
“If this appointment comes to pass it will be an even greater slap in the face to struggling families and the unemployed,” said Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald.
“The mere suggestion that any government minister would deem it appropriate to give such a high paid job to a retired civil servant in receipt of a 713,000 euro lump sum pension payoff is completely inappropriate and reeks of cronyism.”
At the other end of the scale, cuts to the public health services have continued, with the latest Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) figures showing that there are now 1,947 public hospital beds closed.
Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghin O Caolain said the numbers were “truly shocking” and “confirm the damage done to our public health services in recent years by savage cutbacks”.
The cuts were imposed by the Fianna Fail/Green Party Government but were being continued by the Fine Gael/Labour Party Government, he said.
“There must be no more health cutbacks if we are to avoid complete melt-down in our public health services. A programme of bed re-opening should be commenced and the recruitment embargo lifted.”
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty told the Sinn Fein annual conference at the weekend that the austerity progreamme of cuts, agreed as part of the international bailout loan deal for the Dublin government, was crippling the south’s economy and its society.
“Having promised to renegotiate this bad deal, the new Fine Gael-Labour government have acquiesced to the spirit and letter of the failed Fianna Fail policy,” he said.
“In exchange for EU and IMF loans our so-called partners in Europe are forcing us to starve our domestic economy of the stimulus it needs while pouring billions of tax-payers’ monies into toxic banks.”
He said the coalition government had recently put another 6.4 billion euros of public money into the banks.
“Yet in the same month they were promising up to four billion euros in cuts and tax hikes in the December budget,” he said.
“For those of you struggling with lower wages, rising prices and the unjust Universal Social Charge, the government is saying that you must pay more; they are saying that you must now pay a new household charge, water charges, property taxes and increased income tax bills.”
Mr Doherty called for investment in jobs and services and called for the “banks and bondholders to shoulder their fair share of the burden they helped create”.