Department of Public Expenditure rejects pleas for higher pay for CEOs of two public bodies

Request involved roles at Department of Agriculture and Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Department of Public Expenditure rebuffed two requests for higher salaries for incoming bosses of two public bodies, records show.

The Department of Agriculture had been looking for an €145,000 pay deal for the chief executive of a new Office for Fairness and Transparency in the agri-food sector but were told they would have to settle for more than €40,000 less.

Meanwhile, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) sought an enhanced package for its new director last year, also at a rate of just over €145,000. It was told, however, it would have to make do with a lower rate of around €129,000 per year, according to records released under Freedom of Information.

In a business case to the Department of Public Expenditure, the IHREC said the higher rate better reflected the range of responsibilities involved in the job. It said Minister Roderic O’Gorman supported this and that the existing salary for the role had been lower than what was originally intended because of the “economic climate” of the time.


The business case said: “The complexity and the size of the organisation has since grown significantly and will continue to do so over the coming years.”

It said the salary for the director should be matched with similar-sized organisations such as the Courts Service, the Policing Authority and the Garda Ombudsman. The IHREC said that what they were looking for would represent a €33,000 difference and could be covered by its existing budget.

The Department of Public Expenditure was not agreeable, however, and instead said an annual package of €129,351 would apply to the role. It said this would be based on a “director’s allowance” of €14,084 and the fourth point of the Civil Service principal officer higher scale, which was €115,267.

The department also said long service increments would eventually bring the overall annual package to more than €140,000.

The Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, argued for an enhanced package for the chief executive of a newly-created agency. It said the salary at the Office of Fairness and Transparency in the agri-food supply chain should be set at assistant secretary level – which started at €145,283-per-year – to reflect the importance of the role. It said Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue supported this and the salary was “in keeping” with the requirements of the job.

With approval slow to come, the department asked for an update, saying the Minister was “anxious to commence recruiting”.

The Department of Public Expenditure did not, however, agree the role merited the type of salary being sought. It said they would sanction the post at principal officer higher level, which starts at around €103,000 annually. Officials at the Department of Agriculture said they should probably proceed rather than try to further negotiate as it would be quicker to hire someone that way. An email said: “If a suitable candidate cannot be found at this level of remuneration, further communications can take place.”

Asked about the records, the IHREC said they had nothing further to add, while the Department of Agriculture did not respond to a request for comment. The Department of Public Expenditure said: “[We engage] with other departments in the normal course on requests for funding and pay in line with the relevant statutory frameworks. The terms agreed for recruitment to the posts are published in the candidate information booklets and each post is subject to an open competitive recruitment process.”