Doctors to vent fury over €10m deal for outgoing chief

Hundreds of doctors are expected next weekend to express their anger at a €10m pension payout to their union’s outgoing chief executive.

Members of the Irish Medical Organisation have been invited to a special meeting at the Mullingar Park Hotel in the wake of revelations that the organisation’s outgoing chief executive, George McNeice, is to receive payments totalling almost €10m as part of his retirement deal.

The meeting has been organised by IMO president Dr Paul McKeown who expressed his anger at the nature of the deal in a pre-Christmas letter to the union’s 5,000-plus members.

Despite the massive payout the organisation says its financial position is not under threat.

Mr McNeice, due to leave the organisation in March, will receive a settlement of approximately €9.7m, including a pension fund of approximately €4.5m, a contractual termination payment of €1.5m, and delayed pension payments of €3.75m. The settlement is, in fact, half of the organisation’s legal liability to Mr McNeice arising from his contractual entitlements.

Mr McNeice’s contract terms were agreed with a former, now deceased, president of the IMO. According to the IMO spokesman, the implications of the contract only came to light last year after Mr McNeice, 51, initiated discussions with the organisation about the provisions for his retirement.

“Clearly the liabilities in relation to the CEO’s contract were far in excess of anyone’s expectations,” the spokesman said, although he was unable to clarify why the organisation that struck the deal in the first place had taken its eye off the ball. The spokesman said the “weakening investment market and the rising cost of annuities to fund pensions in retirement” was partly to blame.

To add to the IMO’s woes, Mr McNeice will benefit from a direct benefit pension scheme instead of a direct contribution scheme because while the contract suggested the latter, in practice a direct benefit scheme was operated which meant an IMO contractual obligation to finance the former.

Doctors around the country have aired their disgust in relation to the deal with many threatening to cancel IMO membership.

However, the organisation yesterday refused to say how many cancellation requests it had received in the past two weeks.

The IMO also declined to say what changes would be implemented to avoid similar situations in the future on the basis that a review of governance procedures is currently under way.

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