Monday 18 December 2017

Ahern gave back pension but it wasn't included

Former Taoiseach surrendered total of €83,000


Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has severely criticised his own former Department of Finance, for failing to reveal he surrendered €83,000 in ministerial pension last year.

Published last weekend, the Finance Accounts 2010 are the "definitive record of what was spent during that year", and according to the report Mr Ahern received €30,835, and the report made no mention of any pension surrender.

In many other cases, as reported in the Sunday Independent last weekend, the amounts of money sacrificed by former officeholders were detailed. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Ahern said that he was angered that his substantial pension surrender was not noted in the book, and that a very clear impression was given that he made no sacrifice despite public statements that he would.

"I received a pension up until May worth about €30,000. Once the controversy arose I gifted back the entire pension worth €83,000 odd. I gave it up in full once there were calls to do so. But the Finance report made no mention of that at all," he said.

"I was given an official certificate to show I have given that pension back, I can show you. But why was that not recorded and it is in many other cases?" he asked.

Mr Ahern said he has already been contacted by other media outlets enquiring why he had not given up his pension as promised.

"I have already had calls from people asking me what this is all about, even though I gave it up," the former Dublin Central TD said.

The Department of Finance, in response, acknowledged that indeed Mr Ahern did gift back the full pension worth €83,000 in May of last year. It has emerged that Mr Ahern is not alone, and that several other former ministers who gifted back their full pension were not acknowledged in the Finance Accounts.

"The Finance Accounts reflect monies that were actually spent or given to former officeholders in this case. But Mr Ahern is correct in that he did gift back his pension in full, which ceased in May of 2010," a spokesman for the department said.

It seems that only those former ministers, including many from Fine Gael and Labour, who are still active, surrendered only part of their pensions, and for whatever reason only these cases were highlighted in the accounts.

For example, Labour presidential candidate Michael D Higgins sacrificed €5,414 from a pension of €14,911; FG's Gay Mitchell gave up half of his €4,611 pension; former President Mary Robinson surrendered €30,999 from an annual pension of €154,467 and Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave up €6,989 from a pension of €11,847 from his time as minister in the Rainbow Coalition in the Nineties.

Mr Ahern was aggrieved about the omission given the recent controversy over expenses he has claimed since leaving office in May 2008.

According to figures released last week, Mr Ahern has received more than €10,655 in mobile phone expenses from the Department of the Taoiseach since he stepped down in 2008.

Mr Ahern has also claimed another €367, 184 under the scheme to employ secretarial assistants. All expenses were claimed under a scheme to help former Taoisigh with administration after they leave office.

Sunday Independent

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