Civil servants working for the Irish government have received more than $1.5 billion in pay increases since the Celtic Tiger began to collapse in 2007.

Figures revealed by the Sunday Independent newspaper show that public sector workers have benefitted from massive salary increases based simply on length of service pay increases.

The incredible total figure is revealed at a time when the Department of Finance has confirmed that it has borrowed more than $30billion a year just to run the state.

State employees in permanent and pensionable jobs have enjoyed the pay increases at a time when unemployment and emigration is the norm for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers.

One of Ireland’s leading economists has slammed the pay-out in an interview with the paper.

“Given that the private sector has borne the brunt of the recession in terms of pay cuts and, more importantly, job losses, it’s a disgrace that these top-up payments have continued,” said Jim Power, chief economist with Friends First.

“It’s nuts when you see the meltdown in the public finances, and hopefully the new Government will deal with this issue. It shows clearly how the unions have been running this country for the past 10 years and still are.”

The government spent over $22 billion on public sector pay in 2010 while new figures released last week show that state employees earn one third more than their private sector counterparts.

Civil servants in Ireland already enjoy higher wages than their counterparts in most European countries and are paid 33% more on average that public sector workers in Britain.

Former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan was criticized when he refused to terminate the incremental payments for service.

A spokesman from the Department of Finance explained: “Suspending increments would have an uneven impact and would disproportionately affect lower-paid staff.

“Higher-paid public service grades have, in general, significantly shorter incremental scales than lower-paid staff and, consequently, more of them are at the maximum of scales.

“Some higher-paid grades do not have incremental scales at all and their salaries are single points.”