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McAleese kept all of her €141k pension

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Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland

Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland

Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland

FORMER president Mary McAleese retired with an annual pension of €141,000 and did not gift any back to the taxpayer, new figures reveal.

And her predecessor, Mary Robinson, is drawing down a pension of €134,883 pension, according to the latest Department of Finance accounts.

Mrs Robinson gave up €15,499 in 2011, but the accounts show she gave nothing in 2012.

However, a spokesperson said she had yet to finalise her financial affairs from last year, and could yet return some of her pension to the taxpayer.

Former government ministers who surrendered part of their pensions in 2011 – while they were still serving as TDs for two months at the start of the year – drew down their full amounts last year.

Among these are Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, with €99,907 each, and former minister Mary O'Rourke with €66,454.

None of the Celtic Tiger-era ministers donated any of their pensions back to the State, including Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey, Charlie McCreevy, John O'Donoghue and Michael Woods.

However, all former ministers will also get an additional pension from the Houses of Oireachtas for their service as a TD.

The annual Finance Accounts only show the payments made to people for their time as ministers or office-holders.

In the case of Mr Cowen and Bertie Ahern, this would increase their pensions by around €60,000.

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The figures come ahead of the fifth anniversary of the blanket bank guarantee, which falls this weekend.

New rules barring sitting TDs from taking ministerial pensions kicked in for 2012, which means none of the current Cabinet are listed.

Mrs McAleese and Mrs Robinson are top of the pensions table for former office-holders in the annual Department of Finance accounts published last night.

However, all pensions will be reduced further from the amounts detailed in the latest accounts since the Haddington Road Agreement introduced cuts to pensions for politicians and high-ranking civil servants.

Mr Ahern and Mr Cowen will lose around €30,147 each annually, although the reductions only came into effect from July 1 and will not be reflected until the 2013 Finance Accounts.

Among those who did donate their pensions back to the State in 2012 were MEPs Liam Aylward (€10,223) and Gay Mitchell (€4,611) and Proinsias De Rossa (€26,304), although he stepped down from the European Parliament in February 2012.

However, MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael's Jim Higgins still took a pension in 2012.

President Michael D Higgins gave back his €37,621 ministerial pension, as did European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn with her €59,797 pension.

Others to give some of their money back to the State include former Fine Gael minister Michael Begley, Fianna Fail's Padraig Faulkner and Labour's Eithne Fitzgerald, who gave back her entire €16,982 pension.

The annual accounts also show severance payments made to former ministers, and are mainly to former Fianna Fail and Green Party ministers who left office after the 2011 General Election, including Mary Coughlan, who got €45,000, and John Gormley and Eamon Ryan, who got €26,625 and €35,116 respectively.

The severance payments are available for two years after leaving office, but sitting TDs Micheal Martin, Eamon O Cuiv and Brendan Smith surrendered theirs, as did former junior minister Roisin Shortall.

Fianna Fail TDs Billy Kelleher and Dara Calleary kept the payments they got of €19,900 each.

Mr Calleary said Mr Martin's rule that severance pay be waived only applied for former cabinet ministers, and not juniors.

The accounts also show former Comptroller and Auditors General John Buckley and PL McDonnell get pensions of €112,361 a year.

By Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent


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