News John Drennan

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Lucinda and the joy of giving back

Published 03/11/2013 | 02:00

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IT may once have been the fashion for resigned or sacked ministers and TDs to grab as many pensions as they could. However, now, in the new age of austerity, they can't turn away the money quickly enough.

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Surprisingly, the fashion of ministers giving up severance entitlements was started by the Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, when, in a desperate attempt to salvage his party's fortunes in election 2011, Martin said Fianna Fail ministers would not be pocketing the payments.

The modesty, though nice, was somewhat belated. It also, alas, was none too appreciated by the electorate or by a number of colleagues, such as Billy Kelleher and Dara Calleary, who preferred to use the pay-off for research purposes, and Willie O'Dea, who bluntly told Micheal he would spend the money his way by making donations to charity.

The precedent set by Micheal was, however, followed by Roisin Shortall, who, in the wake of her imitation of Noel Browne that crossed off another of the nine lives of James Reilly, also waived her entitlement to over €33,000 in severance pay following her resignation as a Minister of State in charge of primary care.

Now, after her own 'standing by the Republic' moment, the former European Affairs Minister, Lucinda Creighton, has contacted the Department of Public Expenditure to waive the ministerial severance pay due to her in the wake of her resignation from the Government.

Intriguingly, in the wake of Brendan Howlin's abolition of ministerial severance payments Ms Creighton would have gone down in history as the last beneficiary of the scheme where ministers who resigned or were dismissed from government were entitled to a series of payments over a two-year period to 'cushion' their return back to the lower TD salary.

The former minister would have been entitled to receive 75 per cent of her ministerial salary (over and above what she earns as a TD) for the first six months, 50 per cent of the salary for a further year and 25 per cent for the final two years.

It is believed that the former European Affairs Minister would have been entitled to a staggered series of payments of €38,000 over the next two years.

A spokesperson from the Department of Public Expenditure told the Sunday Independent that it could not comment on whether Ms Creighton had agreed to waive her pension.

They did, however, confirm that "correspondence is ongoing'' between the department and Ms Creighton, who was not available for comment on the issue.

On one level, Lucinda's loss of €38,000 resembles, given the scale of our debts, a modest enough proposal.

In fairness, though, it is a proposal that was beyond the wit or inclination of the vast majority of the captains and generals who drove Ireland into the arms of the Troika.

Sunday Independent

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