Business Pensions

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Bruton -- I won't hand back my pension unless forced by law

Published 05/01/2012 | 05:00

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John Bruton

FORMER Taoiseach John Bruton has insisted he won't hand back his €138,000 a year ministerial pension unless the Government passes laws cutting the pensions of all public servants.

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The comments came in a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Independent, where Mr Bruton also said the Government should prepare for the collapse of the euro because countries should plan for "every eventuality" even "unthinkable" ones.

On the issue of his pension, the IFSC Ireland chief and former Fine Gael leader stressed that he had given "35 years continuous service" to the State without ever having a "permanent position".

"During that time I acquired pension entitlements similar to other public servants," he said. "If the Government makes decisions about public servants' pensions generally I have no issue with that.

Politician

"But I don't think service as a politician is any less worthy than any other form of service, particularly as politicians have been directly and personally selected by the people in a way that other public servants are not."

Asked whether there was an argument that "times have changed" and the State can no longer afford to pay the pensions, Mr Bruton said it was "up to the Government" to make a call on that.

"If the Government feels it wants to change it, they can do so," he said.

"But whatever changes are applied should be applied across the board, I don't think politicians should be singled out, and I don't think people should be singled out to be questioned just because they're performing a public role."

In November, the Government announced plans to further reduce any public service pensions above €100,000. The portion above €100,000 will now be cut by 20pc, in addition to cuts of up to 12pc on pensions between €12,000 and €100,000.

Mr Bruton, who formerly acted as the EU's ambassador to the United States, was reluctant to be drawn on what plans Ireland should be making to deal with a euro collapse but said the Government should plan for "every eventuality".

"That doesn't mean it's going to happen," he said. "That's like saying to somebody, you bought a life insurance policy, does that mean you plan to die next week ... We have an army and we don't intend to go to war."

Mr Bruton believes no one will leave the eurozone this year.

On Ireland's general economic outlook, Mr Bruton said there was more optimism about Ireland abroad than at home, but he cautioned that it was unrealistic to think that the Government could create growth over the short term.

"It is true that governments can create growth but it takes five or 10 years for the results to come through," he said.

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