The Secretary General of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, is in receipt of the full €294,920 salary for his job, it has been confirmed.

The question as to whether he was still waiving an €81,000 pay increase that he received in April 2021, has been the subject of intense political controversy in recent days.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar declined to give an opinion as to whether Mr Watt should disclose if he had accepted his full wage.

Mr Varadkar said under GDPR rules it was a personal decision for Mr Watt.

However, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said this morning that "... it's very important that we have transparency in the public sector".

She was responding to questions as to whether Mr Watt should say if he is now in receipt of a €81,000 pay increase which he waived last year.

Ms Humphreys said it is very important to have transparency in the public sector.

"My wages are there for everybody to see ... and I don't see any reason why those at the top of the public service, that their wages should also be available for everyone to see," she said.

In April last year, the Government appointed Mr Watt to the top civil service post at the Department of Health on a salary of €292,000.

He had previously been Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform where he was paid €211,000.

However, he waived the higher rate of pay in his new job until the economy had recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

On his way into Cabinet yesterday, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien said there shouldn't be "any secrets" around such salaries.

A spokesperson for Taoiseach Micheál Martin said last night that transparency was always useful, but stopped short of asking Mr Watt to say if he is now receiving the increased salary.

Last November a report compiled by two Oireachtas committees stated that there was no formal process in place to set the salary for Mr Watt's job at the Department of Health.

In a statement, the Department of Health said this lunchtime: "The Secretary General has confirmed that he is in receipt of the full salary for his role."

Additional reporting Micheál Lehane