Sunday 18 November 2018

McDowell bagged €50,000 'golden parachute' package

Michael Brennan and Patricia McDonagh

FORMER PD leader Michael McDowell has received a "golden parachute" package worth almost €50,000 following his retirement from politics.

His former PD colleagues Tom Parlon and Tim O'Malley, who also lost their junior ministries and seats in last year's election, received severance packages worth €20,000 each last year.

Former Junior Minister Ivor Callely was given a package worth around €17,000, while former Attorney General Rory Brady was given around €87,000.

The details are contained in the annual accounts of the Department of Finance, which are published today.

The severance payments were introduced under 1992 legislation to compensate politicians for losing their ministerial offices.

It follows the controversy over the €68,000 severance package paid to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and payments of €53,000 to two sacked junior ministers.

Pensions

The new figures show the State paid out €10m last year to cover the costs of pensions and allowances for former ministers and office holders.

The highest earners include former Taoisigh such as Albert Reynolds, who is receiving a pension of €103,454, and John Bruton, who received €94,627. Former Fine Gael Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, who came out of retirement this year for the Lisbon Treaty campaign, received a pension of €98,315. And another former Fine Gael Taoiseach Liam Mac Cosgair (Cosgrove) received a pension of €78,652.

Under the pension terms, a person with at least two years' service in a ministerial office qualifies for a pension. The former ministers who received pensions last year included Former Labour Education Minister Niamh Breathnach (€35,355), former Fianna Fail Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Collins (€53,033), and former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes (€43,015).

Disgraced former Fianna Fail minister Ray Burke, who was jailed for tax evasion, received an annual pension worth €54,353 last year.

Payments

President Mary McAleese was given a total pay package last year worth €610,000, including a salary of €293,358 and an annual allowance of €317,434. Her predecessor, Mary Robinson, received a pension of €146,443 and the late president, Dr Patrick J Hillery received pension payments of €146,443 before his death last April.

Former Fianna Fail minister and Tanaiste John Wilson received €39,695 before his death last December.

And a pension of €73,000 was paid to Rita Childers, the widow of the late President Erskine Childers.

The former State spending watchdog John Purcell, who stepped down from his post as Comptroller and Auditor General last May, was paid around €227,000. The Chief Justice John Murray received a pension of €69,042 last year.

Last year, former Fianna Fail Education Minister Michael Woods was at the centre of controversy after it was revealed that then Finance Minister Brian Cowen inserted a special clause in legislation so he could gain €75,000 in backdated pension payments. He received pension payments of €35,355 last year.

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

Many sitting TDs such as Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton are currently receiving ministerial pensions on account of their previous service.

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.

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