Tuesday 12 December 2017

McDowell got multiple parachute payments after election failures

Patricia McDonagh

FORMER justice minister Michael McDowell has proved that losing your Dail seat can actually help pay the bills.

Mr McDowell used a special Oireachtas law to pick up two separate "golden parachute" payments after failing to win back his seat in two general elections.

The Irish Independent has learnt he received a €21,089 tax-free lump sum when he was ousted in the 1997 election, and a €57,848 tax-free lump sum when he suffered electoral defeat again in 2007 -- giving him a taxpayer-funded windfall of €78,937.

Traditionally, workers get one pension lump sum when they retire with their pension.

But under the Houses of the Oireachtas Members' Termination and Pension Entitlements Scheme, TDs can get multiple lump sums. It is understood Mr McDowell is one of just a handful of TDs who have benefited from the law.

And in addition to the two lump sums, he also received a severance payment from the Department of Finance. After his 2007 defeat, he picked up this payment, worth €49,657, as a result of his service as an attorney general and a minister.

The revelations come in the midst of controversy over politicians' pension entitlements.

The former leader of the Progressive Democrats works as a senior counsel in the Bar Counsel of Ireland.

Barristers in this position can command a brief fee, which is a payment for taking on a case, of anything up to €150,000 and a daily rate of €3,000.

Mr McDowell is also receiving a double pension -- a €31,653 Oireachtas pension and a €31,435 ministerial pension.

Last night, he refused to comment on the revelations, insisting: "I don't talk about my financial affairs to anyone."

His ability to receive numerous pension, lump-sum and severance payments from the State is outlined in confidential documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last night, a spokesman for the Department of Finance said there was no proposed legislation to stop politicians receiving a ministerial severance payment and an Oireachtas lump sum together.

Irish Independent

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