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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 27, 2010 @ 7:53 pm


    Harry McGee

    It’s 7.45pm. Today was like looking at at one of those elaborate Japanese domino games. One domino is tipped over and, WHAM, BAM, it sets off a torrent.

    As of 24 hours ago there were 21 former ministers still retaining their pensions.

    Tonight, there are only seven: all from Fianna Fail. They are Noel Treacy, Ned O’Keeffe, Jim McDaid, Terry Leyden, Ivor Callely, Liam Aywlard and Pat the Cope Gallagher.

    Actually, the two MEPs also benefit from a Dáil pension. So they get their European salary plus their Dail pension plus their ministerial pension. It’s a big chunck of change. Liam Ayward, for example, gets a €12,000 ministerial pension plus €52,000 from his Oireachtas pension. That’s in addition to his MEP’s salary of over €90,000.

    I’ve written a long opinion piece on this which will be in tomorrow’s paper.

    But a few net points for now.

    All of those who succumbed to pressure did it quicky, from MGQ to Bertie. They knew that, a la Karl Rove, when you are explaining you are losing.

    The seven hold-outs in Fianna Fail (as of now) will have to give it up or will get a skinful of public approbrium that will never go away.

    What is it with Brian Cowen? His caution and non-commitment are becoming problematic. He seems unable to express a view on anything any more. He has even become truculent with reporters in his efforts NOT to express an opinion. It’s extraordinary.

    The anti-politics sentiment isn’t abating. Labour and the smaller parties are trying to take advantage of it, as Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are doing in Britain. Of course, they are all political insiders/establishment. But the trick is to package yourself a little differently, make the insiders look like outsiders.

    And politicians have long enjoyed their fair share of perks in the name of being involved in a precarious profession. Most have now been stripped away. They are really feeling the pain. Of course, many out there want them to feel way way more. I suspect it’s near enough to a majority view.

    • Joe says:


      Fianna Fáil are loving all these distractions from the big issue.

    • joemomma says:

      “All of those who succumbed to pressure did it quicky, from MGQ to Bertie.”

      Quickly? Isn’t it many months since this issue first came up and a number of TDs gave up their pension entitlement?

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      The pensions haven’t been scrapped and it’s not clear what happens to the payments if they are not taken but they are still ‘entitled’ to them. The wording of GMQ’s statement implies she is merely parking claiming the pension and when she finishes being a commissioner she expects to get the five years paid to her. Don’t forget this is the women who sued the state when she fell on her backside dancing at a party hoolie. And won! So we can expect her brass neck and sense of entitlement to outrank many others.

      Brian Lenihan is as bad as Cowen as his idea of ‘reforming’ pay etc was to allow TDs claim what up to €28k in all manner of expenses and allowances none of which require receipts! He lacked the morals to know the days of any public official claiming an expense without proof of the cost should be over – and given his background why wouldn’t he have such a weak grasp of what is morally right to do.

      I don’t buy any of this nonsense that Brian Lenihan is any different to Cowen – they are from the same cloth of cronies at the heart of FF since the early 60s. This includes Coughlan and Hanafin etc – the family backgrounds they all come from and the poor example set by their father’s can’t be discounted in the attitudes they have toward transparency and accountability.

      Then there is the issue of those TDs who are claiming accomodation allowances for properties that have no o/s mortgages or rent due – I was told the other day by someone claiming to be Enda Kenny that when he became FG leader he took out a 30 year mortgage because when his children starting going to school they sold their Dublin home and moved to Mayo – since that time he was a cabinet minister and has been a TD since 1975 – are we really expected to believe he stepped off the Dublin property ladder to buy a (no offence) quite pedestrian looking dormer in Mayo long before the property bubble took off and as a result he couldn’t afford a Dublin home?

      I can send you the email if you want.

      What on earth was Richard Bruton doing claiming a pension – how on earth was that justified.

      Then all the Labour TDs claiming these pensions – the justification from Michael D of all people was astounding – so Joanna Tuffy don’t even try defend these pensions.

      What about people like Garret FitzGerald, Alan Dukes and John Bruton claiming pensions on top of the massive private sector income they have and God only knows where the private sector income FF people will be getting while also taking public money.

      Then to have the likes of Mary Hanafin and Michael Martin speaking out of both sides of their mouth – not to mention their other orifice – and saying claiming the pensions is wrong while they are hanging onto teachers jobs they will never return to.

      Then what about TDs refusing to provide receipts for their expenses, regardless of whether they ‘have to’. I assume the figures they submit are based on bills so how hard is it in this day and age to scan those bills online to prove they are being honest.

      You are right about Cowen though – its truely bonkers he is utterly incapable of expressing the correct take on any issue that involves setting a good moral example.

      Harry, they are still being paid a basic of about €100k – they are not feeling the pain – not even close.

      The whole issue of senior public officials, be they the President, a juge, a politician, a department official or in a quango, hasn’t been addressed in any meaningful way and as angry bubbles under the surface, I wouldn’t like to be the person in the centre of whatever storm finally tips that anger over the edge as it seems reasonable to expect the underlying seething resentment people feel to need an outlet at some point.

    • Harry Leech says:

      “What is it with Brian Cowen? His caution and non-commitment are becoming problematic. He seems unable to express a view on anything any more. He has even become truculent with reporters in his efforts NOT to express an opinion. It’s extraordinary.”

      It’s more than extraordinary, it’s disgraceful. A leader who won’t lead? A decision-maker who won’t make decisions? A boss who won’t tell people what to do? And we wonder why our country is in the position it’s in. Oy vey…

    • Noel says:

      Brian Cowen- Its obvious he wants to sit on the fence about as many issues as possible. When you’re on a shaky bridge (the current government) you don’t want to sway it one way or the other for fear it might fall. Don’t upset anyone is his motto (anyone in Government that is), ride out the economic crises and hope that by the next election he can say we turned it around. NAMA and the bank bail outs will be spun as necessary evils of a world economic downturn. My understanding about the pensions is that these are agreed entitlements and when you’re entitled to something don’t try and tell me a politician won’t claim it all back when they retire from their political life.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      To show exactly how bad it is bear in mind Bertie Ahern is being used as evidence of giving a moral lead!!!!

      That’s how bad Irish politics is and that’s how useless Cowen and Lenihan are.

    • Ray D says:

      How come John Brutal has escaped the carnage of what are completely legal entitlements for retired office holders. The way to go would have been to bring in legislation ending pensions for those who pro tem have another job that is paid from the public purse. Instead we have the usual headlong rush into nonsense.

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