Laois Offaly TD to lead examination of €292,000 pay to Ireland's new top health service civil servant

Mr Robert Watt previously claimed the country was 'sold a pup' over the cost of the National Children's Hospital

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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Laois Offaly TD Brian Stanley

Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley is in the eye of the storm

Laois Offaly TD Brian Stanley is set to lead an examination of the €292,000 to be paid who the new Department of Health Secretary-General which he says in 'poor taste' when student nurses are getting €100 a week.

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is set to meet this week to consider whether it will examine the appointment and a significant salary increase of the new Secretary-General of the Department of Health Robert Watt.

It was recently revealed that the new Secretary-General will be paid a salary of €292,000, a salary which is €81,000 higher than the top pay scale.

As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Dep Stanley has called for further examination of a number of questions about the appointment process and the substantial increase in salary for the role.

“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,” he said.

It emerged last weekend that Robert Watt, the head of the Department of Public Expenditure, is to become the new secretary-general of the Department of Health.

Mr Watt came to prominence in 2019 when he questioned the cost of the National Children's Hospital. Speaking at a PAC meeting at the time he claimed the public was "being sold a pup" with the €1.7 billion price tag.