Sunday 4 December 2016

Dukes will not give up his two pensions even with Anglo job

Patricia McDonagh, Aine Kerr and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 29/04/2010 | 05:00

FORMER Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes was last night dragged into the pensions controversy as he refused to waive his €100,000 double political payment despite earning a similar amount as the state-appointed chairman of Anglo Irish Bank.

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Mr Dukes, a former finance minister, picked up a ministerial pension worth €45,470 last year and a TD's pension worth €55,019.

He was directly appointed by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan as chairman of nationalised Anglo in March.

Mr Dukes earned €102,000 as a non-executive director of Anglo before his appointment and, while his salary as chairman has not yet been disclosed, his predecessor Donal O'Connor earned €151,949 as executive chairman.

The revelations about Mr Dukes's pensions came as two Fianna Fail MEPs were last night clinging on to the double pension payments they get on top of their European Parliament salaries.

Liam Aylward and Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher already get salaries of €91,000 for representing their constituencies in Europe.

Meanwhile, under government guidelines, Mr Dukes can earn up to €218,000 without breaking any pay protocols.

The exact details of his financial package with the bank will not be known until Anglo publishes its accounts.

Asked last night if he would surrender his ministerial and Oireachtas pensions, Mr Dukes told the Irish Independent: "No. I am not a serving member of the Oireachtas. I haven't been a member of the Oireachtas for eight years."

However, European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, who sparked the whole pensions controversy, has not been a member of the Oireachtas since 1997.

Both Ms Geoghegan-Quinn and Mr Dukes were appointed to their respective roles by the Government.

Meanwhile, three more Fianna Fail politicians yesterday volunteered to give up their ministerial pensions, but four more are still holding out.

Fianna Fail TD Michael Woods and Senators Terry Leyden and Ivor Callely gave up their pensions.

Defiant Fianna Fail backbencher Noel Treacy said he needed to consult with his family and bank manager before deciding whether to surrender his pension.

The Galway East TD said he was going to reflect on the issue over the next week. His pension is worth €24,007.

Fianna Fail TD Dr Jim McDaid, who is outside the party whip, is also refusing to give up his €22,487 pension.

Defending his decision, Dr McDaid said there had been a media "witch hunt".

"I have principles and this is a matter of principle," he said.

MEPs Mr Aylward and Mr Gallagher are still holding on to their ministerial and TDs' pensions. Mr Gallagher received a ministerial pension of €23,634 and a TD's pension of €30,439 for the second half of last year.

He also got a severance payment of €75,469 when he left the Dail after being elected to the European Parliament.

Mr Aylward received a TD's pension of €53,291 and a ministerial pension of €12,161.

Mr Gallagher said yesterday he had not been contacted by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Pressure

"In fairness to the Taoiseach, I'm under no pressure from him and neither is Liam," he said.

Mr Gallagher, who was elected an MEP in the North West constituency last June, said his income had dropped from €126,000 when he was a TD to €91,500 now.

Ten more government TDs, including John O'Donoghue and Willie O'Dea, will qualify for ministerial pensions before the next general election is due in summer 2012.

All these TDs will be expected to waive their entitlements when their time comes. Three TDs, Tom Kitt, John Browne and Michael Ahern, whose pensions are due to click in next month are already stating they won't be taking the payment.

But Fine Gael is still planning to capitalise on the Government's discomfort next week by forcing a vote on the continued payment of the pensions.

Fine Gael will seek to put Fianna Fail and the Green Party in a position where the Coalition is voting in favour of the continued payment of ministerial pensions.

Mr Cowen says the Government cannot legally halt the pensions for sitting politicians, but Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny says it can pass legislation to ban the payments.

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins is giving up his €5,952 ministerial pension, but not his €54,890 Dail pension.

Mr Higgins was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and 2009.

Irish Independent

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