The Department of Health has refused to confirm whether its top civil servant is now receiving his full salary of nearly €300,000.

Last April, Robert Watt was appointed as Secretary General of the Department.

In the face of controversy on the pay package at the time, Mr Watt said he would voluntarily waive the salary increase of €81,000 "until the economy begins to recover and unemployment falls".

In a statement in response to a query from RTÉ News, the department said "voluntary deductions from pay by any civil servant employed by the Department, including the voluntary waiving of a portion of salary in this way, are not a statutory or contractual requirement and as such the details are personal and private in respect of the individual concerned".

Mr Watt was initially appointed to the role on an interim basis in January 2021 on his existing salary of €211,000.

In April, he was appointed permanently on a salary of €292,000.

Opposition TDs strongly criticised the decision to offer such a large salary increase and they said it would set a precedent for senior pay in the civil service.

The salary rose to €294,920 in October in line with revised civil service pay grades.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today declined to give an opinion on whether Mr Watt should disclose if he has accepted his full wage.

Mr Varadkar said that under GDPR rules, the question was a personal decision for Mr Watt.

"He is the only person who can waive those rights, not me. He has a right to decide whether or not to answer that question."

Yesterday, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien said there should be no secrets on public salaries.

"Transparency is always a good thing where it is appropriate. I would expect that would be answered at the appropriate time," said Mr O'Brien.

Minister Catherine Martin said she would agree with Minister O'Brien that it would be appropriate that Mr Watt should answer questions on his salary.