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Pat 'The Cope' still not sure about giving up his pension

ONE of the last serving politicians holding on to a ministerial pension while drawing a full salary says he has still not decided whether to give the pension up.

Fianna Fail North West MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher says he has still not made his mind up -- even though the vast majority of serving politicians relinquished their pensions two months ago.

There was public uproar in April over the issue of sitting politicians drawing a pension while still being paid a full wage as a TD, senator or MEP. It led to 30 politicians giving up their pensions.

Among those to surrender was former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who was pulling in a pension of €98,901.

Mr Gallagher, a former TD and junior minister, is paid €91,500 as an MEP, while his pension is worth €23,634 a year.

In April, Mr Gallagher said he was considering his position and was seeking clarification from the Department of Finance before he made a final decision.

Despite the controversy Mr Gallagher is not expected to make a decision until after the summer at the earliest.

"I'm still considering my position," he said yesterday. He claimed he had issues from his constituents on his plate and had to focus on them without thinking about his pension.

Another MEP, Fine Gael's Jim Higgins, said a court order relating to a "family law matter" was preventing him from surrendering his ministerial and Dail pensions, which amount to €60,000 a year.

There are six TDs in receipt of pensions who have said they would give their payments to charity rather than hand them back to the State, despite Taoiseach Brian Cowen insisting that giving the money to charity was not the same as giving it up.

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