Friday 23 February 2018

Dermot Ahern didn't know the size of his pension ... well, it's €110,000

Former justice minister Dermot Ahern. Photo: Tom Burke
Former justice minister Dermot Ahern. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

He claimed to be in the dark about his own pension but new figures reveal former justice minister Dermot Ahern is collecting almost €110,000 a year in State pension payments.

The ex-Fianna Fáil TD raised eyebrows when he shrugged off questions about his pension during an RTÉ radio appearance last April, saying: "I'm not exactly sure what it is. But I do know it was reduced."

He added the reduction was "very substantial".

However, new figures released by the Department of Finance show Mr Ahern received €56,669 from the State purse in 2015 on the back of his 14 years at the Cabinet table.

This is on top of around €53,000 that he is entitled to in a TD's pension, bringing his total close to €110,000.

Efforts to contact Mr Ahern yesterday were unsuccessful.

Some 122 ex-ministers shared €3.8m in pension payments last year, averaging just over €31,000. The list includes a number of high-profile names who have returned to Leinster House in the wake of February's election.

Among the sitting TDs to get payments were Fianna Fáil's Sean Haughey (€17,585), John Curran (€15,324) and Pat the Cope Gallagher (€33,341).

Their pensions were stopped when they formally became TDs again.

Former Tánaiste Michael McDowell received a ministerial pension of €67,456 last year, as well as a TD's pension in the region of €30,000.

This is substantially more than the €65,000 a year he now receives, having won a seat in the Seanad elections.

He told the Irish Independent he has donated the payments to charity since the economic downturn.

"The funny thing is the day I was elected to the Seanad, it [the pension] stopped," he said.

"I actually lost out on about €30,000 - but it wasn't a loss to me because ever since the financial crash I've been giving it to charity," he said.

Only three politicians gifted pension payments back to the State last year, including President Michael D Higgins.

The former minister for arts was entitled to €38,325 but settled for his €250,000 salary as President.

Former EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn gave back €5,712 of her €55,357, while ex-Labour Party minister Eithne Fitzgerald gave back her full entitlement of €17,636.

Other notable names on the list included Ivan Yates (€29,329), Dick Spring (58,554), Ivor Callely (€15,451), Noel Dempsey (€50,912), Alan Dukes (€47,219), Pádraig Flynn (€34,573), Mary Harney (€65,919), Conor Lenihan (€16,008) and Charlie McCreevey (€56,920).

The top earners were former presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, who collected €137,749 and €121,158 respectively.

Former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen both took their full entitlement of €83,918, which is on top of the €53,000 they get annually for their service as TDs.

Irish Independent

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