Senior officials appearing at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday revealed that the €20m pot has been made available in order to incentivise staff to remain at the State’s bad bank.
The payments were severely criticised by the PAC chairman John McGuinness, who said it was a clear sign top officials feel “the good times are back”.
Mr McGuinness probed the officials on how the payments came about.
Second secretary general Ann Nolan defended the payments, saying because
Nama is to be wound down, it was given permission to enter into agreements with a certain number of staff whereby if they stay until whatever date the agency needs them to stay, there will be a payment at the end.
She insisted the payments are “actually redundancy payments”, but they will not get them unless they stay until the date that suits Nama. “The danger for an organisation that is winding down is that when people know their job is ending at the end of the following year, they will start looking for a job now, and halfway through next year, the agency might have no staff to finish the job that needs to be done,” she said.
Ms Nolan said 77 members of staff had expressed an interest in receiving the payments, and so far 51 of those have been accepted.
The officials were also challenged about similar “bonuses referred to as retention payments” approved for staff in the Central Bank.
Mr McGuinness told thethe revelations were concerning and the payments should not be awarded.
“The department is effectively allowing the Central Bank to set a trend where these payments are allowed and the whole thing then gets out of control in a similar way to the bonus culture that existed,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was criticism of the HSE at the PAC meeting for failing to release a report into alleged child abuse at a foster home.
The committee discussed the failure to release a report into the alleged rape of dozens of children in a foster home and the handling of the affair by officials.
Committee vice-chairman John Deasy said he had been notified the HSE had missed a deadline to release the report into allegations of horrific abuse set by the information commissioner.
Mr Deasy said the delay “flies in the face” of claims by HSE director general Tony O’Brien that he wished to see the report released.
The Waterford TD sought the committee to immediately raise the issue with the Department of Health and the HSE to have the report release. The committee agreed to this request.