Bonus of extra week’s leave as TDs depart for summer recess

Dáil term concludes with blazing row about political pensions and allowances

Joan Burton said constitutional issues prevented the introduction of legislation. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Joan Burton said constitutional issues prevented the introduction of legislation. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The Dáil term came to a bad-tempered end yesterday as Government and Opposition TDs traded insults on the sensitive matters of political pensions and allowances.

However, there was unity on one issue, as the House agreed to take an extra week’s parliamentary leave.

The Government’s much vaunted democratic revolution would have meant the Dáil returning on Tuesday, September 15th, but the revolution was parked as all agreed the summer recess should run until the following Tuesday.

Distress

“The kick in the teeth to the people is to be found in the reports in the media telling us that top politicians and former taoisigh will now get a couple of grand extra,’’ he added.

“They will end up with €136,000 to look out the window at home and smile at Ireland.”

He called for the introduction of legislation to prevent the increases going ahead.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said constitutional issues prevented the introduction of legislation. She said some of the pensions of some former officeholders were higher than current ministerial salaries, adding it would be an honourable gesture if they voluntarily decided not to accept the rise.

Government backbenchers were silent. The Opposition erupted in the face of the Tánaiste’s refusal to opt for the legislative route.

Independent TD John Halligan noted one of those on a handsome pension was former minister Martin Cullen from Waterford, who, he said, had been living in America for five years.

“He is on a golf course in America with a huge pension after wrecking this country. The pension is being sent out to America to him.’’

Burton said TDs, in future, would have to wait until they were 65 years before drawing a Dáil pension.

And she then lobbed a political grenade in the direction of the Independents.

“By the way, I did not see the Independent members offering the €41,000 allowance that each of them get on a tax-free basis,’’ she said.

Moral outrage

“The Government parties get it as well,’’ replied Independent TD Catherine Murphy.

Halligan, who seemed close to jumping off his seat with rage, remarked that the Government parties received millions in State allowances.

Burton calmed matters when she said she would take up the pensions issue again with the Attorney General.

Later, it was time to head back to the constituencies, with the bonus of the extra week.