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'€20m pension' for retiring Irish Medical Organisation chief was halved

George McNeice is now entitled to a pension pot of just under €10 million following the announcement of his retirement from the doctors’ representative group yesterday.

George McNeice addressing the IMO AGM earlier this year.
George McNeice addressing the IMO AGM earlier this year.
Image: Screengrab via IMO Website

THE IRISH MEDICAL Organisation has told its members that it managed to halve an estimated €20 million in pension entitlements to its former chief executive, George McNeice, before his retirement which was announced yesterday.

In an email to its more than 5,000 members IMO President Dr Paul McKeown says that it had no choice but to pay a total remuneration package of €9.7 million to George McNeice who will retire in March.

However the IMO says in the email that McNeice has no active management role within the organisation as of yesterday having reached almost 30 years of service with the body. The IMO could not be reached for comment this evening.

In a statement yesterday, McKeown noted the “more than a six-fold increase on the number of members involved in the late 1980’s” at the IMO as well as the “very challenging time in the health services in this country”.

The email to members, seen by TheJournal.ie, states that McNeice had negotiated his contractual entitlements many years ago with the organisation left exposed by the changing economic circumstances.

McKeown says in the email that he shares the anger of members in relation to the issue but also notes that McNeice acted within his rights given his contractual entitlements.

The email details the steps that led to yesterday’s announcement including legal advice which said that it was unlikely a court challenge to McNeice’s remuneration package would be successful.

€9.7 million settlement

The organisation estimates, based on independent taxation and actuarial advice, that under the terms of his contract McNeice would have been entitled to in the region of €20 million in pension and other provisions.

The IMO’s management committee, through negotiations with McNeice’s representatives in recent weeks, managed to secure 50 per cent reduction to this figure with McNeice now departing the IMO next year with an overall settlement of €9.7 million, according to the email.

This includes a pension fund of €4.5 million, a contractual termination payment of €1.5 million and delayed pension payments of €3.75 million, which will cost €2.6 million in today’s values.

The organisation insists that membership subscriptions from doctors are protected and will not be used to finance the pension as this is already provided for within current IMO financial resources.

A comprehensive review of governance procedures at the IMO has already been undertaken and it will now include a review of the procedures surrounding remuneration to ensure that an issue like that with McNeice does not occur again, McKeown says in the email.

Interim management arrangements have been put in place for the coming months and a special meeting of members has been convened for 12 January, the message adds.

In a statement yesterday McNeice said that it was a “great honour” to have served as chief executive of the IMO, adding: “I am confident that the IMO will continue to represent its members professionally and responsibly and play its role as a voice of reason and compromise for many years to come.”

The IMO negotiates on behalf of doctors with the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health.

Read: Junior doctors warn Health Minister they will emigrate

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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