Teachers enjoy €79.3m pension bonanza
Five secondary school teachers last year received lump sums of more than €150,000 in a pensions bonanza, new figures show.
The figures provided by the Department of Education in response to a Freedom of Information request show that one retired school teacher received a lump sum of €165,974.
The tax-free lump sum received was the top amount paid out to a retiring teacher in the primary and post primary sector last year - the highest amount received by a primary school teacher was €143,672.
The exodus of primary and secondary school teachers from the public service in 2012, when total lump sums totalled €172.36m, slowed last year with lump sum payments amounting to €79.3m - a drop of 54pc.
In 2012, the figures revealed 28pc of retirements in primary schools were at principal level. The figures for 2013 show that 121 retiring secondary school teachers received lump sums of between €100,000 and €150,000 last year.
Figures for the primary sector show that 175 teachers received lump sums of between €100,000 and €150,000.
However, the lump sum payments to teachers are dwarfed by ongoing pension payments to retired teachers. Last year, 13,710 retired primary school teachers received pension payments of €414.9m. In the post primary sector, pension payments of €298.8m were made to 10,005 retired teachers.
Chief executive for ISME Mark Fielding said yesterday that the lump sum payments "are another example of Ireland's real Golden Circle".
"Private sector employees can only stand and wonder at the riches in the parallel universe that is the public sector," he said.
"Owners of SMEs, struggling to cut costs and create jobs, are horrified by the comparisons being cited on wages, perks and entitlements of public servants.
"At the starting scales we compete with an over-generous welfare system and at middle and top end we compete with public sector affluence."
However, president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) Sean McMahon dismissed the claim that teachers are part of a public sector Golden Circle. "Teachers are ordinary members of society who have suffered quite a lot with the demise of the Celtic Tiger," he said.
Mr McMahon said teachers pay into their pensions for 35 years and more "and it behoves the State to recompense teachers accordingly".