New pay rise for Ireland’s top civil servant

ireland
New Pay Rise For Ireland’s Top Civil Servant New Pay Rise For Ireland’s Top Civil Servant
Robert Watt, who was controversially awarded an €81,000 pay increase last year, received a further rise under the terms of the latest public pay deal. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
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Robert Watt, the top civil servant who was controversially awarded an €81,000 pay increase last year, received a further rise six months after taking up the post.

The secretary general in the Department of Health received an additional €2,920 top-up to his €292,000 salary in October, according to the Irish Examiner, under the terms of the latest public pay deal.

His salary now stands at €294,920 as a result, official figures released by the Department of Public Expenditure show.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy described the pay increase as unacceptable, with the rise around three times the amount the Government is awarding frontline workers in recognition of their role during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is not about the individual, Robert Watt. This is about the process around the salary level,” Mr Carthy told the Irish Examiner.

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“The payscale is not justified, so to suggest he is entitled to a €3,000 pay increase is simply not acceptable.”

Public pay deal

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said a revised salary of €292,000 was sanctioned for recruitment to the post of the secretary general of the Department of Health, reflecting the challenges and very significant responsibilities attached to this role.

He confirmed that, under the terms of the latest public pay deal, the rate for the post in the Department of Health with effect from October 1st, 2021, is €294,920.

“Section 3.1.3 of ‘Building Momentum: A New Public Service Agreement 2021-2022’ provided for a general round increase in annualised basic salary for all public servants of 1 per cent or €500, whichever is greater, on 1st October 2021,” Mr McGrath said.

Amid controversy at the time of his appointment in April over his salary, Mr Watt temporarily waived the €81,000 top-up, but it remains unclear if that waiver is still in place.

A spokesman for the Minister for Health said he was not aware whether the added portion of salary is still being waived. “That is a matter for the secretary general,” he said. The Irish Examiner sought comment directly from Mr Watt, but none was forthcoming.

The decision to pay Mr Watt the higher salary in effect created a fourth tier of secretaries general. Since October, the salary rate for secretary general level I and level II is €213,859, and the rate for secretary general level III is €202,604.

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