€364k paid to ex-Bord Pleanála chairman

THE former chairman of An Bord Pleanala, John O’Connor, received a lump sum payment of €364,617 when stepping down from the role this year.

Mr O’Connor retired as chairman after serving 11 years in the post in June and was replaced by Mary Kelly, who had served as Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Environment Minister Phil Hogan yesterday confirmed Mr O’Connor will also receive a gross annual pension payment of €121,539.

Deputy Pat Deering, a Fine Gael and constituency of the minister, last night described the payments as “extraordinary”.

He said: “I was shocked when I saw the figure.”

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD has tabled questions to all Government departments on the severance payments, lump sum payments and pension pay-outs received by the chiefs executive of agencies under the departments’ remit in the past four years.

Deputy Deering is still waiting for figures to come back from a number of departments but he described figures received to date as “exorbitant”.

He said: “Something has to be done retrospectively to address these ongoing pension payments. We are not in the Celtic Tiger era anymore and there are people struggling and they are right to be angry when they see these figures.”

Deputy Deering said Fine Gael Oireachtas members got a commitment from Finance Minister Michael Noonan at the party’s parliamentary meeting this week, that he will respond to their concerns over the high pension payments in the context of the upcoming budget.

Deputy Deering said: “It needs addressing.”

Mr O’Connor served two terms as chairman of An Bord Pleanala and presided over the board during the building boom and subsequent collapse in the construction sector.

Prior to serving with An Bord Pleanala, Mr O’Connor served with the Department of the Environment.

In a speech prior to stepping down last June, Mr O’Connor said that it was his greatest regret that the board did not take a stronger stand against poorly designed and remotely located housing schemes based on “bad zoning”.

In response to the parliamentary question from Deputy Deering, Minister Hogan also confirmed the chief executive of the lesser known Local Government Management Services Board (LGMSB) received €237,966 on stepping down and with an annual gross annual pension of €79,322.

Sean O’Lanagain stepped down as chief of the LGMSB in 2009 after more than 40 years of service. The LGMSB has since merged with another agency.

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