TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has admitted he has no legal powers to stop a huge bonus being paid to Dublin Airport Authority chief Declan Collier.
The minister has demanded that the directors of the airport withdraw a planned €106,000 bonus for its chief executive -- but the board may choose to ignore his request.
The massive bonus is a slap in the face for the Government, which has called for a halt to extra payout's to semi-State company chief executives because of the national economic crisis.
The airport directors' decision to thumb their noses at the Government undermines attempts to place a cap on the salaries of top executives.
Collier's pay package last year totalled €612,500 -- a basic salary of €308,000; €106,000 in deferred bonuses; a further €182,000, which included pension contributions and taxable benefits, and director's fees of nearly €16,000.
The total package was nearly 8pc more than he got in 2009. Collier took a voluntary 12pc pay-cut last year after agreeing to an 8pc pay-cut in 2009.
His basic salary last year was still only 7.5pc lower than it had been when airport traffic reached its peak in 2007.
A clearly angry Mr Varadkar has written to the board demanding the €106,000 bonus from last year not be paid in any way, deferred or otherwise.
The DAA, which controls Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, said that unlike previous years, the latest payments would not be handed over to Mr Collier until he left the semi-State company. But the board insisted that they would be paid.
Their stance flies in the face of the minister's instruction that the bonus should not be paid.
"I made my position to the chair of the DAA very clear a number of weeks ago -- that this bonus was not to be paid," Mr Varadkar said.