Ex-public servants face pension cut

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, who has political responsibility for the new Croke Park deal, will introduce legislation to cut public pay. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, who has political responsibility for the new Croke Park deal, will introduce legislation to cut public pay. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill.

Wed, Feb 27, 2013, 00:00

The Government plans special legislation to cut the pensions of the highest-paid former public servants by some 5 per cent.

Although the move is part of a general cut in all public pensions above €32,500, the greatest reductions will be imposed on senior figures who held high public office and those who led State and other public institutions.

Those affected by the measure include former taoisigh Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen, John Bruton and Albert Reynolds and many members of the previous government.

Mr Ahern and Mr Cowen will see their pensions cut to €142,655 from €150,163 under the move; Mr Reynolds’s pension will drop to €141,513 from €148,961;and Mr Bruton’s pension will fall to €134,728 from €141,819.

Former president Mary Robinson will see her pension reduced by just under €7,000 to €132,522 while two former comptroller and auditors general, PL McDonnell and John Purcell, will see their pensions reduced by €5,735 to €108,973.

Former tánaiste Mary Harney will see her pension reduce to €123,315 from €129,805 and the pension paid to former minister for finance Charlie McCreevy will fall to €113,218 from €119,177.

Sliding scale

The detailed measures in the new Croke Park deal were released last night by the Labour Relations Commission.

The reduction in pension entitlements will be imposed on a sliding scale starting at some 2 per cent on annual pensions in excess of €32,500 and culminating in a cut of about 5 per cent on pensions greater than €92,500.

Information provided by the Department of Public Expenditure suggests “a few hundred” retirees who held the highest-paid public jobs currently receive pensions greater than €100,000 per year.

The department said these include former presidents and former Civil Service secretaries general, and those who held offices such as director of public prosecutions, ombudsman and comptroller and auditor general.

The department said last night that judicial pensions would be cut under the new measure. Retired members of the judiciary who receive pensions in excess of €100,000 include former chief justices, former High Court and Circuit Court presidents and former Supreme Court and High Court judges.

Retired presidents of NUI colleges and retired provosts of Trinity College Dublin receive pensions greater than €100,000, as do former chief executives of State agencies such as IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Political responsibility

Pensioners in this category also include former hospital consultant doctors, former Garda commissioners and former chiefs of staff of the permanent Defence Forces.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, who has political responsibility for the new Croke Park deal, will introduce legislation to cut public pay.

Separate legislation will be required to cut public pensions. Although the move to reduce the benefits of the highest-paid retirees is seen to be important symbolically, officials expect the cut from pensions greater than €100,000 will yield a maximum of €20 million.

Officials are confident that the generalised pension cut can be demonstrated to be a fair and proportionate response to the financial challenges faced by the State.

As well as the new Croke Park measures to cut pay, premium and overtime rates, public service staff could lose out on allowances already targeted for elimination.

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