Geraldine Kennedy: in row with journalist.

IRISH TIMES editor Geraldine Kennedy and managing director Maeve Donovan were each paid a basic salary of 296,000 last year, less than two years after the newspaper’s financial crisis and near-collapse that saw approximately 250 job losses.

The newspaper refused to disclose individual details of bonuses and pension contributions, but the eight executive directors of the company, including Ms Kennedy and Ms Donovan, received average bonuses of 72,000 and pension contributions of almost 57,000. Executive directors also received 8,751 in directors’ fees.

Details of the 3.3 million payments to directors at the Irish Times last year were released in a letter to SIPTU, the trade union, on Tuesday. The letter said the newspaper was unable to provide details of payments to former editor Conor Brady on grounds of confidentiality.

The Irish Times agreed to waive its right to confidentiality in respect of Mr Brady’s arrangements, but said it needed to finalise this with him before making details available.

Mr Brady is understood to have received a lump sum worth 1 million when he stepped down as editor in December 2002. He will also receive 100,000 each year over the next 10 years under a non-compete clause.

The Irish Times agreement with Mr Brady was again the subject of controversy in the last week.

The newspaper refused to print an opinion piece by journalist John Waters that criticised the payments to Mr Brady and other former directors. Editor Geraldine Kennedy wrote to Mr Waters to relieve him of his duties after he gave a radio interview on the subject, but subsequently reinstated him.

The newspaper said it would return to profitability this year after suffering losses of 2.8 million last year and 21.7 million in 2001.

SIPTU asked for a breakdown of the payments made to directors after the 3.3 million was made public when the Irish Times filed its annual accounts The Irish Times said it was going beyond the norm for a private company in providing the breakdown Jack Nash of SIPTU said the unions would evaluate the information in the letter before responding. The National Union of Journalists said it welcomed the comprehensive nature of the disclosure, but would study the details before making further comment.

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