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Dept confirms ex-secretary general received €220k package

The Department of Media has confirmed its former secretary general Katherine Licken received a year’s salary when she left the role.

Yesterday evening, it emerged that Ms Licken received a €219,240 severance package when she left her role earlier this year.

In a parliamentary question response to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, Labour TD Alan Kelly and Independent TD Carol Nolan, the department said a €219,240 severance package was paid.

The department said it was a payment made at secretary general severance level, and was made “in accordance with the Top Level Appointments Committee retirement terms” which have applied to all new secretary general appointments since October 2011.

This payment was made in line with contractual entitlements and calculated in accordance with official Government rules.

In a new statement to RTÉ News this evening, the Department of Media provided further information, saying Ms Licken was in receipt of the payment as she was not offered a new role when she stepped down and has yet to reach pension age.

In a statement, a department spokesperson said: “The former secretary general completed their seven year term as secretary general of the Department on 19 January 2024.

“Their retirement was noted by Government on 3 October 2023 and a replacement recruitment process was put in place.

“The rules in relation to the end of a secretary general’s term that apply to new appointments to secretary general posts since October 2011 (including that of the former secretary general), are set out by the Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) and were approved by Government in 2011.”

The department said key points to note are:

  • “Newly appointed secretaries general may at the end of their term of office be offered an alternative appointment in the civil or public service on the same salary, if they were recruited from the civil or public service, on condition that they do not have 40 years’ service and that they have not reached the applicable minimum pension age.
  • “If the person is not offered a post as in paragraph (i) above, and has not reached preserved pension age, he/she may be offered severance of one year’s salary (or salary to preserved pension age if less), with pension payable on reaching preserved pension age. For those who have reached the applicable minimum pension age, superannuation benefits are payable immediately, with no additional benefits and no severance payment.
  • “Where an alternative appointment is offered, as in paragraph (i) above, but is not accepted, no severance is payable, and pension is payable at the applicable minimum pension age, with no additional pension benefits. Similar arrangements apply where a secretary general is given an alternative appointment and later retires.”

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