Pensions for former ministers to cost €8.8m

 

ALMOST €8.8 million of taxpayers’ money will be paid out in pensions for 109 former ministers this year.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern heads the list with a pension of €152,331 for his service as minister and TD. He is followed by four other former taoisigh: Brian Cowen is on €151,061; Albert Reynolds, who is getting €149,740; John Bruton is on €141,849; while Liam Cosgrave is entitled to €133,023. The 91-year-old Mr Cosgrave has gifted part of his pension back to the State, one of a handful of people on the list to take that course.

Some of those drawing the biggest pensions are Mary Harney, €129,805; Michael Woods, €122,695; Michael O’Kennedy €122,803; and Dick Spring €121,108.

A number of prominent members of the Bertie Ahern-led governments, including Charlie McCreevy, Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey and John O’Donoghue, who later served as ceann comhairle, are all on pensions of just over €119,000.

Former leas cheann comhairle Séamus Pattison has a pension of €117,205 while Mary O’Rourke has marginally more with €117,981.

Ray Burke, who resigned from the cabinet and the Dáil in 1997, has a pension of €103,838.

President-elect Michael D Higgins has a pension of €87,928. Mr Higgins said during the election campaign he would not draw an Oireachtas pension while in office.

The pension entitlements arise from a combination of ministerial and TD pensions. No contributions are made by the recipients towards their ministerial pensions but they contribute to their TD pension in line with standard public service arrangements.

Politicians who have served in the Dáil and Seanad are entitled to combine their service and claim a pension at the higher Dáil rate.

Serving Ministers are not entitled to draw pensions for previous service so no members of the current Government are on the list, even if they had pensions while in opposition.

The latest official figures were supplied by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan yesterday in response to a Dáil question from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty described the level of payments to former ministers at a time when the country is facing into one of the harshest budgets in its history as a scandal.

A small number of people entitled to ministerial and/or TD pensions but who are still active in political or public life have gifted either all or some of their pensions back to the State.

European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn and MEPs Gay Mitchell and Proinsias De Rossa have gifted all of their ministerial and TD pensions.

Former Dublin South TD Eithne FitzGerald has given back all of her pension entitlements to the exchequer.

MEP Liam Aylward has gifted the ministerial portion of his pension but is taking his TD pension of €49,934.

The president of the Irish Human Rights Commission, Maurice Manning, and MEP Marian Harkin have gifted their TD pensions back to the exchequer.

Top Pensions

Bertie Ahern€152,331

Michael D Higgins€87,928

Albert Reynolds€149,740

Ray Burke€103,838

John Bruton€141,849

Dick Spring€121,108

Liam Cosgrave€133,023

Charlie McCreevy€119,177