Commissioner urged to forgo pensions

 

Three Government ministers yesterday indicated that that EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn should forgo her Dáil and ministerial pensions.

Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív, a former Fianna Fáil colleague in the Galway West constitency, said Ms Geoghegan-Quinn should “show leadership’’ on the issue.

Mr Ó Cuív said that that government ministers had taken a pay cut.

“We have certainly led at Oireachtas level, and I think that everybody has to see what they can contribute and that includes literally everybody in this country,’’ he added.

Asked if this included Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, the Minister said: “It includes everybody. If she is in the county...that is the only caveat I’d put put to that, but yes, I think it includes everybody.’’

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said that people who continued to be in public life had to accept that there had to be sacrifices in the area of pensions.

“That is why the Government, on the adivice of the Attorney General, reduced as much as we could the pensions of existing Oireachtas members right across all political parties, ’’ he added.

“The Attorney General advised that people had property rights and and we would not be able to go any further. So, ultimately, it is a matter for each individual, but I would think that somebody who continues in public life should make a sacrifice as have a number of existing TDs already.’’

Mr Ahern said that, however, some TDs had not done this.

Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin said that Ms Geoghegan-Quinn was not being paid by Ireland in her EU job.

“In so far as she is a representative nominated by Ireland in Europe, where she is earning a quarter-million euro, if she felt that she could do without it, it would be a good gesture,’’ Ms Hanafin added.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that Oireachtas pensions were a matter for the individuals who received them.

Aaked to comment on the matter, when he was attending the 1916 Fianna Fail commorationin Arbour Hill Dublin, Mr Cowen said that it was a matter for retired Oireachtas pensioners to make a decision on the issue.

“I do not want to get inolved in particular issues. What I am saying is that the general point has been made by Oireachtas members and office-holders already,’’ he added.