Monday 9 December 2019

Basing pension reform on volunteerism can't work

• Does the comment by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, (Irish Independent, December 31) that reform of public sector pensions is long overdue mean that radically revised pension and severance payments to politicians will serve as a bellwether for future policy?

Pension payments to 133 former ministerial office-holders in 2011 amounted to €4.12m. Over €957,000 of this sum was paid to 39 individuals who have still not reached the traditional pensionable age of 65 years.

Over €369,000 was awarded to 20 individuals who continue to be remunerated on the payroll of the State as members of the Oireachtas and judiciary, MEPs and directors of bailed-out banks – that are supposedly acting in the public interest, but whose mandate is worryingly ambiguous.

Over €2m in severance payments was awarded to the elders of the political establishment that presided over our wrecked economy before they were even paid a pension and several of these recipients also continue to be handsomely paid by taxpayers.

Micheal Martin, Eamon O Cuiv and Brendan Smith 'gifted' severance payments amounting to €243,762 to the State, but six other currently serving Fianna Fail TDs accepted severance payments of over €284,000 in respect of ministerial office. The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has, according to the official record, been awarded severance payments amounting to €80,920 for less than two years' ministerial service, from June 2007 to April 2009.

This Government, which wishes to be considered for its reforming prowess, made a severance payment of €28,240 to a 54-year-old former minister who walked out of office after only eight months' service.

Policy in respect of politicians' pensions and severance payments cannot be based on personal discretion and volunteerism when the scale of them is so enormous.

Does Varadkar therefore envisage that reform will be based on the concept of leadership by example, or will it merely be another instance of privileged people who earn a great deal hammering those with little influence and prestige who earn relatively little?

Myles Duffy
Glenageary, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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