Thursday 27 April 2017

De Rossa to get €91,000 pension after 30 years as TD and MEP

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

RETIRING MEP and former minister Proinsias de Rossa will be entitled to an estimated annual pension of up to €91,000 when he steps down next month.

The veteran TD and MEP last night said it was time to move on after spending 30 years in the Dail and European Parliament.

His position as Dublin MEP will now be taken up by city councillor -- and former lord mayor -- Emer Costello, who is married to junior foreign affairs minister Joe Costello. She was Mr de Rossa's first replacement on a list of substitutes presented by Labour at the European elections in 2009.

Mr de Rossa (71) spent 20 years in the Dail as a TD for Dublin North-West, firstly for Sinn Fein -- the Workers' Party, which later evolved into Democratic Left before merging with Labour in 1998.

He was also a cabinet minister for three years when he led Democratic Left into the Rainbow Coalition in the mid-1990s, becoming social welfare minister.

He left the Dail in 2002, having first been elected in 1982, and served two separate terms as an MEP -- firstly between 1989 and 1992, and then from 2002 until this year. Although no definite figures are available, it is estimated Mr de Rossa will get around €10,000 in a ministerial pension; as well as an estimated €37,801 TD's pension, and around €43,444 from the European Parliament.

He had been drawing his ministerial and TD pensions while in the European Parliament but gave this up in 2009 as the financial crisis worsened.

Mr de Rossa said he had been thinking about retiring for more than a year and insisted there was no link between yesterday's announcement and recent friction between him and his Labour MEP colleague Nessa Childers over the appointment of former Department of Finance chief Kevin Cardiff to the European Court of Auditors.

"Not in the slightest," he said, adding it was just time to move on. "My work as a public representative for 30 years, and before that my 25 years as a grassroots political activist, has always been motivated by a desire to change society for the better."

He said he would continue being politically active, working to "promote alternative policy responses to Europe-wide austerity economics", among other issues.

But he said his criticism of "austerity economics" was not directed at the Fine Gael-Labour Government but at the EU generally.

It comes as his son, Fearghal de Rossa (45), has been charged with assaulting the MEP, but a court last week heard that he may not be fit to stand trial.

Cloverhill District Court heard Fearghal de Rossa was in custody on remand and was transferred to the Central Mental Hospital to undergo treatment and assessments in November, after he was accused of attacking his father. He is due to appear in court again tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Ms Costello's promotion completes a good year for her family, with Mr Costello, a TD for Dublin Central, getting a junior ministerial post before Christmas. Ms Costello's sister, Grainne Malone, was appointed as a district court judge in November; and another sister, Mary Moran, was appointed to the Seanad on the recommendation of Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Mr Gilmore paid tribute to Mr de Rossa, and said he had "an outstanding record in public life going back 30 years". The pair have been colleagues since their days together in Sinn Fein -- the Workers' Party.

He said he had put combating poverty "at the heart of government policy" during his time in government.

Irish Independent

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