Exchequer received €261m in dividends from State companies last year

Biggest contributor was Ervia, the operator of Irish Water and Bord Gáis

Commercial semi-State companies last year paid out dividends of €261.19 million to the State, according to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue. This brings the total dividends from these companies to €2.4 billion since 2010.

The payout last year by nine commercial semi-States was 19 per cent lower than the €323.74 million paid out by 10 companies in 2017.

The biggest contributor last year was Ervia, the operator of Irish Water and Bord Gáis, which paid a dividend of €139 million. This was down on the €148 million it paid to the Government in 2017.

In a written Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, Mr Donohoe said the next largest dividend last year was paid by the DAA, totalling €37.4 million. This followed a year of record passenger numbers at Dublin Airport and represented an increase of 28.5 per cent on the previous year.


Significantly down

The only other commercial semi-State to pay more than €30 million to the State last year was the ESB at €33 million

This was significantly down on dividends paid out by the ESB in prior years – in 2017 it paid out €109.9 million. This followed payouts of €82.16 million in 2016, €258.7 million in 2015, €269.1 million in 2014, and €139.46 million in 2013.

A number of other semi-State firms significantly increased their dividend pay out last year. The Irish Aviation Authority paid out €19.45 million, more than double the €9.24 million it paid in 2017.

Forestry group Coillte also sharply increased its payout to €15 million compared with €8 million a year earlier.

More modest increases in dividends were recorded at the Dublin Port Company, at €12.17 million in 2018 compared with €11.7 million in 2017, and the Port of Cork company, which paid a dividend of €714,000 compared with €693,091 in 2017.

Shannon Foynes Port company increased its dividend by 20 per cent to €300,000 while Eirgrid remained static at €4 million.

Bord na Móna made no dividend payout last year after paying out €2.3 million in 2017 and €3.7 million in 2016.


The dividends paid by commercial semi-States during the nine-year period reached a peak in 2014 when €470.6 million was paid to the State, driven by ESB and Ervia.

Mr McGrath said that while dividend payments have been an important source of revenue for the Government in recent years “it should be recognised these dividends are ultimately being paid by the end consumers buying goods and services from these companies”.

He argued that “consumers are better served in the end by lower prices rather than massive dividend payments going back to the central exchequer”.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times