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Senator to bow out on €180,000 golden deal

FIANNA Fail veteran senator Donie Cassidy will walk away from politics with a lucrative pension and severance package worth at least €180,000.

Other senators who failed to retain their seats in this week's election will also be able to dip into the €16m pot that provided massive payouts to former Fianna Fail ministers and TDs.

Last night Mr Cassidy said the payments were set independently and he had worked "really hard" for the last four years in the Seanad.

Defeated senators such as Mr Cassidy will now be entitled to pension lump sums, an annual pension, once-off termination payments and staggered termination payments for up to 12 months after losing their seat.

Mr Cassidy, who spent 29 years between the Dail and Seanad before his defeat on Wednesday night, can now claim a minimum pension lump sum of around €112,000.

The businessman, who has three hotels in Dublin, rental properties and a number of music businesses, can also draw down a termination lump sum of around €11,000.

And he is then entitled to receive six termination payments in the region of €4,000 each, which will total €24,000.

And at that point the former Seanad leader can start drawing down on his pension of around €35,000.

In anticipation of the Seanad and Dail elections, the Oireachtas pension pot was boosted by €6m -- from €10m to €16m -- to cover termination payments, lump sums and payouts.

The new Government has now pledged to hold a referendum on abolishing the Seanad, thereby making any imminent payouts to senators the last of their kind.

Senators' entitlements are similar to those paid out to ministers who retired before the general election and the plethora of Fianna Fail TDs who failed to retain their seats.

Mr Cassidy, who caused controversy last autumn when he declared that it was "not easy" for senators with families to get by on €65,000 a year, last night told the Irish Independent he did not have any details about his pension and severance entitlements.

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But he said any payments would be in line with agreements in the public service.

"I presume I'm entitled to the same as any senior council official or department official," Mr Cassidy said.

The levels for pensions and payouts were set by independent bodies, he added.

"The one thing I would say about public life is that you buy the watch, you're working 24/7. I don't know any other occupation that requires you to work 24/7, apart from the clergy. That has got to be taken into account," Mr Cassidy said.

He added he hadn't expected to lose his seat on Wednesday night. The Westmeath-based politician spent 24 years in the Seanad and five in the Dail.

Other retiring and defeated senators such as Fianna Fail's John Hanafin, Ann Ormonde and Geraldine Feeney will also be entitled to pensions based on their years of service.

Each will be entitled to a termination lump sum of €11,000. This will be followed by termination payments depending on length of service in the Seanad.

Pension lump sums and termination payments to outgoing TDs this year are expected to cost more than €10m.

That figure will now rise when outgoing senators are factored in.

Other Fianna Fail senators who have lost their seats will also be entitled to a termination lump sum payment of €11,000.

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