Saturday 18 November 2017

Ahern pockets hefty €111,235 pension on top of his TD pay

Patricia McDonagh

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was paid a pension of €111,235 after resigning last year -- on top of his regular TD's salary.

Mr Ahern is now one of 26 sitting TDs in Leinster House who are getting a ministerial pension as well as their Dail salary of over €100,000.

And this pension rate does not reflect the full amount he will be paid this year, as he was only retired for two-thirds of 2008 due to his resignation in early May.

The revelation comes as anger mounts at the Government's decision to force a pension levy on more than 300,000 public sector workers.

During the week, thousands of civil servants protested at the Dail at the measure, which is part of a plan to shore up €2bn for the ailing public purse.

The measure -- due to be passed into law next week -- will see an average of 7.5pc shaved off the salary of a public servant before tax. In contrast, an elite set of TDs are getting a double income.

The figures, which also detail a range of severance payments for those who lost their posts in office, are due to be published by the Department of Finance in June.

They show pensionable TDs got paid more than €600,000 in total last year.

The amount of pension to which a politician is entitled is directly linked to the length of time he or she spends in ministerial office. Two or three years in office entitles the minister to 20pc of salary, increasing to 60pc for 10 or more years.

Although pensions are not normally payable until the age of 55, a former minister aged between 50 and 55 can claim a discounted pension.

Many high-profile TDs are receiving ministerial pensions on account of their previous service.

In recent weeks, the payment of pensions to sitting TDs has grown in controversy -- forcing many to defend their entitlement to such payments.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny recently said he would accept a change to the practice of sitting TDs drawing down ministerial pensions.


However, Mr Kenny -- who receives a pension worth €15,851 -- refused to say the payments should be withdrawn.

Bernard Allen, who was junior minister at the Department of Education between 1994-1997, was paid €6,149 for his time in office. Labour leader Eamon Gilmore also received a pension of €6,165 for his time as junior minister at the Department of the Marine between 1994 and 1997.

Labour TD Ruairi Quinn, who was finance minister between 1994-1997, received a pension of €46,852 last year, while Fianna Fail TD Michael Woods received a pension of €37,502 last year for serving as a cabinet minister for more than 14 years. Fianna Fail TD and former junior minister Frank Fahey received €41,846 -- compared to €14,443 last year.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Finance said Mr Fahey's pension rate began mid-year in 2007 and that was why the payment has increased. In addition to this, his pension rate was revised under the terms of the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Acts 1938-1998.

Those who have left politics received some of the largest pensions. Former Taoisigh such as Albert Reynolds received a pension of €109,734, while Garret Fitzgerald received a pension payment of €104,283.

Former finance minister Charlie McCreevy got a pension of €75,003, while former PD leader and justice minister Michael McDowell received a pension of €31,543.

Founder of the PD party Desmond O'Malley received a pension of €56,252 last year, while former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn received €51,102.

The figures also detail severance payments which were introduced under 1992 legislation to compensate politicians who lost their ministerial offices.

Former junior ministers Michael Ahern, John Browne and former government chief whip Tom Kitt each received a package worth €26,610 for being dropped when Taoiseach Brian Cowen took office in May.

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