Saturday 24 February 2018

Seven former MEPs to share €500,000 golden handshakes

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

SEVEN outgoing MEPs who will not be returning to Brussels are to share golden handshakes worth €500,000, the Irish Independent can reveal.

They may have been rejected by the electorate or decided they have had enough of commuting to Brussels and Strasbourg, but departing MEPs are entitled to generous tax-funded payments to ease their exit.

Following the elections on May 23, seven of the 12 Irish MEPs, who served in the last parliament between 2009 and 2014, either retired or lost their seat.

Under the current laws, outgoing EU parliamentarians are entitled up to a maximum of two years' salary, €194,000, if

they have served a sufficient number of years.

The value of the payment increases with length of time in post, meaning the longest-serving MEPs could receive two years' salary after leaving.

Former MEPs are also entitled to receive a taxpayer funded pension worth up to €68,800 a year.

They can draw this non-contributory pension, which is funded solely by the taxpayer, at age 63.

Details of their departure package, circulated to MEPs in a document seen by the Irish Independent, shows they are entitled to an allowance of one month's salary for each year an MEP has been in parliament.

Defeated MEP Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher who has 18 years of service in the EU Parliament, is according to the rules, in line for a basic payout of €143,223.

He served as MEP between 1994 and 2002 and between 2004 and last month.

This comes on top of €19,688.50 he received in former ministerial payments in 2012. In 2011, he also received €51,000 in TDs pension payments.

Three of the departing MEPs – Gay Mitchell and Jim Higgins and Fianna Fail's Liam Aylward – are in line to receive payouts of €79,568 each plus their pensions.

The other three MEPs who failed to retain their seats – Phil Prendergast, Emer Costello and Paul Murphy – who were not elected, but rather were replacements, are to benefit from a rule which will see them receive enhanced pay-offs.

Despite all of them only being in place for less than half of the term, they are entitled to a payoff equivalent to them having served the full five-year term.

As a result, they will each receive at least €39,784.

Many MEPs also have a second European parliament pension scheme, which is expected to pay out up to €60,000 a year.

Last week, the Irish Independent revealed that Ireland's 12 MEPs who served between 2009 and 2014 cost the taxpayer an average of €2m each in generous salaries, expenses and allowances.

The full extent of the MEP gravy train cost taxpayers €24m in total since the politicians were elected in 2009.

According to the figures, six of the 12 MEPs have cost taxpayers more than €2m.

Irish Independent

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