FG TD calls for action on pensions for top bankers
Fine Gael backbencher Olivia Mitchell has called on the Government to re-examine the legal advice that it cannot cut the large pensions of retired bankers.
The Dublin South TD said the Dáil could not depend on them voluntarily taking a reduction. “I think we have to go further and find some way of imposing a response,’’ Ms Mitchell added.
“I would urge the Government to look again at the advice of the Attorney General to see if there is some other way of dealing with this, if contracts cannot be broken.’’
She said if annual pensions of more than half a million euro were being paid to bank executives who performed well, behaved prudently and soberly, in line with well-established prudential practice, they would still be considered excessive, unnecessarily generous and contrary to the best interests of the shareholders.
“Our top bankers were none of these things,’’ she added. “They were not successful, they were not prudent, they were not sober.’’
Ms Mitchell was speaking during the resumed debate on a Private Members’ motion from the Technical Group calling on the Government to “end the current system of paying grossly over-generous pensions and massive lump sums on retirement to office holders such as cabinet ministers, taoisigh, TDs and senators, senior public servants, State regulators, including the financial regulator’’.
The Government, whose speakers pointed to the constitutional barriers to reducing ministerial and public service pensions, and who referred to savings already made, defeated the motion.
Mick Wallace (Ind) said if the Government brought forward a proposal to create a level playing field and abolish the leader’s allowance for parties and Independents, he would vote for it.
He said it was very difficult for people to accept that members of the Dáil received “golden handshakes”.
It was frightening to think some former members were receiving €150,000 when some people were trying to live on an income of €15,000 and €16,000.
Catherine Murphy (Ind) said former ministers were receiving huge pensions, in many cases well before they reached the retirement age of 65 years.
“Which one of them, I would ask you, which one of them would institute a court challenge to insist on full payment ?’’ she asked.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said there was a misconception that public service pensioners were all on massive pensions.
“The fact is about one-third of Civil Service pensioners have a pension of €10,000 a year or less, and around half have a pension of €20,000 a year or less,’’ Mr Howlin said.