Thursday 25 December 2014

Kenny welcomes top banker’s decision to accept cut in massive pension

Michael Brennan
Deputy Political Editor

Published 07/11/2012 | 05:00

The scale of the pensions paid to Mr Sheehy and other former executives of bailed-out banks has provoked a storm of public outrage.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has welcomed the decision by former AIB chief executive Eugene Sheehy to cut his pension.

Mr Sheehy announced he was voluntarily reducing it to €250,000-a-year, from up to €325,000 a year, after a week-long campaign led by the Irish Independent.

In the Dail, Mr Kenny said he was glad to note that Mr Sheehy had made a "personal decision" regarding the level of pension he intended to draw down.

He said the "extraordinary high pensions" given to former bankers were agreed before his Government took office and were the subject of contractual arrangements.

The scale of the pensions paid to Mr Sheehy and other former executives of bailed-out banks has provoked a storm of public outrage. Mr Sheehy was in charge of AIB at the time of its collapse.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government had the power to increase taxes on big pensions of retired bankers and former ministers but had failed to do so. She said that the "little people" did not have the choice of taking voluntary cuts like Mr Sheehy - but had tax increases imposed on them.

But Mr Kenny said taxation matters were for Government to decide in the Budget. And he said it ill-behooved Ms McDonald to make such criticisms when Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams had claimed an allowance from the British House of Commons for many years despite not recognising it.

During Leader's Questions, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin criticised the cuts to home help hours imposed by the HSE. He said that elderly and disabled people who needed home help were still losing it, despite assurances from Mr Kenny that this would not be the case.

Mr Kenny said it was not possible to reverse the home help cuts, but told Mr Martin to send him in details of the personal cases he had mentioned. These included two wheelchair-bound elderly women in West Cork who had lost their entire home help allocation of five hours.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle criticised the Government's imposition of limits on rent supplement payments. He said had led to some people becoming homeless because they could not afford to rent under the new limits and others having to pay under the counter "top up" payments to landlords.

"Do you want more and more soup kitchens opening, as happened recently in Athlone?" he asked.

Mr Kenny said there had been 42,000 people approved for new rent supplement payments this year, which showed that it was possible to rent a house under the new rent limits introduced last January. He said the €420m rent supplement scheme was going to be replaced by a new scheme next year.

Irish Independent

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