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Wednesday 16 August 2017

MEP Aylward holds on to his €53,491 TD's pension

Fionnan Sheahan and Sarah Collins

FIANNA Fail MEP Liam Aylward, who took a double salary for three years, is giving up his ministerial pension but keeping his TD's one.

Mr Aylward, a close friend of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, previously took a double salary for three years while he served as a TD and MEP up to the last general election.

The Leinster MEP has been unavailable for comment all week on his status as one of the remaining FF politicians to hold out on his pension.

Yesterday, a statement was issued on his behalf saying he was finally giving up his ministerial pension of €12,161.

But there was no mention of the former Carlow-Kilkenny TD's Dail pension of €53,491.

A spokesperson for Mr Aylward confirmed he was only giving up his ministerial pension and keeping his TD's pension.

"He did 30 years in the Oireachtas. It was 10 elections -- three in an 18-month period. He contributed to his pension," the spokesperson said.

The MEP was not available for comment all week because he was "in a committee".

Mr Aylward chose to take a €91,000 MEP's salary, paid for from EU funds, rather than the €106,000 from the Irish exchequer, the spokesperson said.

But Mr Aylward also picked up two salaries for three years after getting elected to the European Parliament in the mid-2004.

He didn't resign as a TD until the general election in mid-2007.

During that three-year period he had one of the worst voting records in the Dail.



Weapon

Mr Cowen was believed to be closely involved in Mr Aylward's decision to run for Europe and thereby end his junior ministerial career.

Although Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell and Labour Party MEP Pronnsias de Rossa gave up both their ministerial and TD's pensions last year, their counterparts are not following suit. FG MEP Jim Higgins is giving up his €5,952 ministerial pension, but not his €54,890 Dail pension.

He was also paid two salaries for three years as he held his Seanad seat from 2004 to 2007.

FF MEP Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher has yet to make a decision on either of his pensions.

Meanwhile, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, whose U-turn on her pensions started the Brussels ball rolling, again refused yesterday to comment on the controversy she had caused.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn announced yesterday a move to make it easier for scientists to tap and spend EU money.

"Research funding is a key weapon to fight for economic recovery," she told reporters in Brussels.

But she refused to get embroiled in Irish politics in her position as European research chief.

When asked if she had any comment on her decision to gift her ministerial pension to the Government earlier this week, her spokesman chimed in: "What we are doing here is a commission press conference. There will be no comment on Irish political matters in such a setting from Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn."

Last night, Mr Cowen eased the concerns of any other workers in receipt of a public service pension having it taken back.

"The issue that has arisen specifically is Oireachtas members and people are coming to their own conclusions in relation to that and making their own decisions.

"And that is my position on it," he said.

Irish Independent

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