High Court decides that VEC chief McDonagh can hold on to allowance

The High Court has ruled that Galway VEC CEO Joe McDonagh can retain a €12,500 a year allowance for transport liaison duties despite the fact that he ceased doing the duties two years ago.

The former GAA president was joined by Dr Katie Sweeney of Mayo VEC in challenging the decision of the Minister for Education to abolish the allowance last June once they were no longer responsible for overseeing transport arrangements.

However, Mr McDonagh and Dr Sweeney had argued that the allowance was part of their basic pay and that its removal would affect their pension entitlements.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ruled that S 15 (6 ) of the Vocational and Education (Amendment ) Act 2001 meant that the payment of allowances was to be determined by the VECs themselves.

It also meant that the minister's role was simply to consent to such payment.

However, he said that the minister was given no power to terminate such payments in the manner in which he was purported to do.

Accordingly, he said the revocation of such payments in June 2012 by the minister must be judged to be unlawful.

The judge stressed that his judgment only addresses the situation that applies prior to the imminent commencement of new legislation to enable the amalgamation of a number of VECs.

As yet it is unclear what implications the ruling could have for the Government's plans to cut the annual bill of €1.5bn for allowances and premium payments in the public sector


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