Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Energy Official's Retirement.

23.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he will make a statement on the premature retirement of the official with responsibility for energy in his Department with particular regard to this official's press statements on his retirement.

The compulsory retirement age for most civil servants is 65 years but the superannuation code provides for voluntary retirement with immediate pension and lump sum from the age of 60 onwards. Approximately two hundred civil servants avail of these voluntary provisions each year. The official referred to did not retire prematurely as suggested in the question. He retired on full pension after 46 years' service and, according to press reports, he stated in reply to inquiries addressed to him that he had retired in the normal way.

That is exactly the answer to the question. I do not want to drag this official into the matter more than necessary. Did the Minister see the remark attributed to this gentleman on his retirement that he hoped his successor would have adequate personnel to cope with the fuel and oil shortages which he had to cope with recently?

I saw that and I certainly share his anxiety in that respect. During the past month there has been a fairly considerable increase in the staff of the energy division of my Department.

At what level?

At all levels. The number now totals 46.

Does the Minister remember that the last time he answered questions here I asked him if he would give comparative figures for the staff in his Department on the energy side at higher executive officer level or more? That is only a month ago and it emerged then that the number of staff of that seniority and upwards had actually gone down by one in the last two years?

That is not correct.