President won't reveal if she'll accept reduced pension
Published 08/10/2011 | 05:00
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese has refused to disclose whether her pension will be reduced in line with a voluntary pay cut she took on her €325,000 salary.
The President will receive an extra €37,754 annually if her pension is based on her full salary rather than the reduced rate.
Mrs McAleese's pension is based on 50pc of her official salary of €325,508, which would come to €162,754 annually.
However, she is currently earning €250,000 a year after taking a series of voluntary paycuts totalling 23pc. If her pension was based on this figure it would drop to €125,000 -- a reduction of €37,754 per annum.
A Department of Finance spokesperson pointed out that the President was legally entitled to a pension based on her official salary.
However, she also explained that there were legal mechanisms by which Mrs McAleese could accept 50pc of her currently reduced salary. That was purely at the "discretion" of the President, she added.
Apart from her basic pension entitlement, there would be no lump sum component to Mrs McAleese's retirement package, according to the spokesperson.
Her pension payments kick in immediately when she leaves office later this month.
In 2010, Mary Robinson's pension amounted to €154,467.
However, accounts show she voluntarily surrendered €30,999 of this amount.
The former president was quoted at the time as saying that it was vital "example comes from the top."
Mrs McAleese's previous employers included RTE and Queen's University Belfast.
It is understood that she worked for RTE from 1979 to 1981 but was not a member of staff and therefore has no pension rights.
She became director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's University in 1987 and was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 1994, a post she held until her election as President of Ireland in 1997.
The university declined to confirm whether she would receive any pension payment.
The annual salary for her successor will be €249,014, almost a quarter less than the current official salary.
The issue of the presidential salary has emerged as one of the key talking points in the current election campaign.
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness has insisted, if elected, he will only accept the average industrial wage and give the rest back to the Irish people.
However, the other candidates have not made any specific commitment.