I’m worth my €1,000 a day fee, says Spring

Former Tánaiste Dick Spring defended his €1,000-a-day fee as a public interest director at AIB, claiming it was “reasonable for the effort” he put into it.

The former leader of the Labour Party said he had turned down more lucrative positions in order to stay with AIB. Moreover, his fees were “the going rate for this type of work”.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had criticised Mr Spring for taking a fee last year of €59,000 for working 60 days, on top of his pension of €121,000 per year.

Mr Spring said he had been originally requested to work 40 days a year when he was asked to become a public interest director at AIB. He wrote to the late Brian Lenihan, the then minister for finance, to say he would work an extra 20 days. He also reduced the fees for public interest directors by 25% when he took office, he added.

Mr Spring appeared before the Oireachtas finance committee yesterday with his fellow AIB public interest director, Michael Somers.

Bank of Ireland public interest directors Joe Walsh and Tom Considine had been before the same committee earlier in the day.

Wicklow Independent TD Stephen Donnelly reminded Mr Walsh that he was a public interest director and it was his duty to serve the public.

He wanted to know what his views were on Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher’s comments that there would be no debt forgiveness, “as these [comments] are clearly in the interests of the bank”.

Mr Walsh said the bank would adhere to the proposed personal insolvency legislation. “But if at the end of the three-year restructuring period there was no money left, then as we say in West Cork, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.”

Mr Walsh argued that it was not the fault of the previous board of directors at Bank of Ireland when asked what caused the demise of the banking system. The former Fianna Fáil minister blamed “a wider banking malaise and international factors such as Lehman Brothers” for the collapse of the Irish banks.

However, there had been a very public backlash against the crisis, which had a “devastating effect” on Fianna Fáil at the last election, he added.

Independent TD Shane Ross accused Mr Walsh of abdicating his responsibilities as a public interest director and “of going native”.

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