Golden goodbyes lure for ministers
Generous retirement payouts prompt cabinet colleagues to consider following Ahern's lead
Speculation is growing that a number of cabinet members are considering following Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's footsteps into political retirement, lured by the prospect of generous golden handshake package for ministers and TDs.
Severance payments and pension payoffs totalling €7m will be paid by taxpayers to departing ministers and TDs after the next General Election, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
In a further affront to public sensitivity, three of the country's bust banks -- AIB, Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank -- have awarded themselves €70m in bonuses and pay rises since last year.
Middle- and lower-income earners will bear the brunt of the €6bn Budget on Tuesday, yet taxpayers will foot the multi-million euro bill to cushion ministers and TDs set to retire or lose their seat.
Members would be substantially better off by retiring, rather than remaining on as a backbencher.
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Twelve members of the Cabinet -- Brian Cowen; Dermot Ahern; Brian Lenihan; Mary Coughlan; Mary Harney; Mary Hanafin; Noel Dempsey; Micheal Martin; Eamon O Cuiv; Batt O'Keeffe; Tony Killeen; and Brendan Smith -- would receive golden handshakes of between €302,500 and €352,454 and annual pensions of €91,000-€120,000 a year for the rest of their lives, should they exit politics at the next election.
And ministers John Gormley, Eamon Ryan and Pat Carey could receive in excess of €286,000 each were they to resign or lose their seat.
Separately, despite the taxpayer footing a bailout bill of €50bn, it has emerged that AIB paid bonuses of almost €60m to its staff since January 2009. This was on top of €10m worth of pay increases to key staff during the same period.
Worse still, Anglo, the institution which has contributed more than any other to Ireland's demise, increased pay by 5 per cent to staff in 2009 and paid bonuses to 15 staff members since January last year.
And 4 per cent of staff at Bank of Ireland received bonuses that were deferred until this year.