McAleese being paid pension based on salary before pay cuts
Former President Mary McAleese is being paid a full pension of more than €160,000 a year -- a sum based on her old salary before she took two voluntary pay cuts.
Taking a pension based on her full salary, rather than the reduced amount, will be worth an extra €25,000 a year.
The Cabinet this week signed off the ex-president's pension and she began to receive payments.
The retired president does not receive severance pay at the end of her 14-year term in office.
Instead, she goes straight on to a pension worth half the president's salary of €325,507.
Her pension of €162,754 per annum makes her one of the highest-paid retired public servants.
In recent years, Mrs McAleese took two voluntary pay cuts, reducing her salary to €250,000.
She announced in 2009 she would take a voluntary 10pc cut in her annual salary. And she subsequently took a 12.5pc cut in her personal allowances.
Then, in 2010, she took another voluntary pay cut worth 20pc of her salary.
But her pension is not based upon her reduced salary of €250,000.
The Department of Public Expenditure confirmed yesterday the pension was set under the terms of the Presidential Estimates Amendment Act 1973.
"The pension payable is half the salary rate, which is €162,754," a spokesperson said.
The pension is being paid from this week.
Last week, new President Michael D Higgins asked for his salary to be cut by almost a quarter, down to the same level as his predecessor.
He wrote to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to request a voluntary reduction in pay. The new salary will be in the region of a €250,000.
The Government also plans to introduce legislation to reduce the president's salary from the current level of €325,000.
In a statement from Aras an Uachtarain, the President said he had advised the Government of his intention to voluntarily waive 23.5pc of his salary amounting to €76,493 in a full year.
"This will bring his salary in line with the reduced figure of €249,014 now being legislated for in the Oireachtas and which will apply to the next holder of the office.
"During his term in office, President Higgins will not draw down any pension entitlements arising from his previous service as a member of the Dail or Seanad," the statement said.
The former president and her husband, Dr Martin McAleese, are understood to be away on holidays this weekend.
Dr McAleese was appointed to the Seanad as a nominee of Taoiseach.
Mrs McAleese plans to study in Italy now that she is finished up at the Aras.
In a documentary on her term in office, shortly before she stood down, she said she had no regrets on leaving the job after two terms, and will return to studying law.
"I am a civil lawyer by training. I am going back after this to studying law again," she said in an RTE documentary.
She played down speculation that she would be taking up a post in Rome.
"I won't be working over there but I will be doing some studies between a couple of universities. That's the plan."
All the president's pensions: Review, Page 5