independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

'Mammy' O'Rourke surrenders pension without a fight

Former Fianna Fail minister 'Mammy' Mary O'Rourke has told her nephew, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, that she does not want her ministerial pension back.

Last week, in a politically humiliating U-turn, Brian Lenihan was forced to reverse his Budget-day claim that all ministerial pensions being paid to sitting TDs would be ended.

However "legal issues'', which meant Mr Lenihan could not go ahead with the process, means the finance minister will ask former office holders such as Ruairi Quinn, Bertie Ahern and James McDaid to make a voluntary contribution to the Exchequer.

It is believed, however, that Mr Lenihan's appeal will meet with a frosty response.

Already one of his predecessors, Ruairi Quinn, has issued a straight 'no', when asked if he has any plans to return the pension.

Happily, when it comes to his own formidable aunt, the minister will not have to go cap in hand asking for a few bob for the Exchequer. Instead, speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent, Mary O'Rourke made it clear that she had "given up her pension some months ago''.

In a rare example of politicians practising, as distinct to preaching, the politics of 'patriotic duties', Ms O'Rourke said that she had no intention of "asking for the return of her ministerial pension''.

Ms O'Rourke was anxious not to be seen as "some sort of holy Mary Molly'' but "when the economy began to turn I started to feel quite uneasy about receiving the pension and wrote to the department requesting that they take it back''.

The only request Ms O'Rourke has made is that '"I want the money to be gifted, I believe that's the technical term, to the 12 sapling schools for autistic children''.

So far Mr Lenihan has not replied to his aunt's request, but the fine example she has set for the rest of her retired ministerial colleagues qualities means that it is unlikely her request will fall on unsympathetic ears.

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