Sinn Féin pledges to cut salaries of TDs and Ministers if elected

Doherty defends party policy on pensions after members retire with pots of up to €1.72m

Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty at Sinn Féin’s general election candidate launch in the Mansion House, Dublin, on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty at Sinn Féin’s general election candidate launch in the Mansion House, Dublin, on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Sinn Féin has defended its approach to pensions as it emerged that four of its TDs will retire from the Dáil with pension pots varying from €495,000 to €1.72 million.

Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty insisted that his party would reduce the salaries of TDs and ministers and the pensions that would be available to them on retirement.

Mr Doherty said the party would prevent TDs drawing pensions early, “that people should only be able to receive their pensions at full retirement age”.

Other parties did not support its initiative because “they are not there for ordinary working people”, he claimed.

“They voted to increase the pension age for ordinary workers while allowing a section of TDs to draw down full pensions at the age of 50.”

He said his party had gifted money back to the State in the past. “We haven’t accepted any of the increases that we’ve seen over the last number of years.”

Mr Doherty added that he had also given back about €9,000 to the State, something he had not previously made public.

He was responding to the revelations of substantial pension pots of retiring TDs including the party’s four deputies who are not running for re-election and who will receive annual pensions ranging from €26,000-€46,000 a year and lump sums of €63,000-€140,000.

Mr Doherty was asked about his party colleagues’ pensions as he launched a series of proposals worth more than €3 billion to put money back in workers’ pockets, including a pledge to bring the retirement age back to 65; to increase the State pension by €20 over a government term; end USC payments for the first €30,000 of all incomes; abolish the property tax and the 5 per cent levy imposed on every insurance policy premium which he described as “immoral”.

Pension pot

A report by the Irish Independent showed that Sinn Féin’s longest-serving TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin retires with a pension pot of €1.726 million and annual payment of €46,800 while former leader Gerry Adams will receive €21,060 annually. Kerry TD Martin Ferris retires with €42,120 annually while Cork TD Jonathan O’Brien will receive €21,060 a year.

Former taoiseach Enda Kenny has the largest pension pot of €3.25 million and an annual pension of €46,800.

Former minister for finance Michael Noonan and former ceann comhairle Seán Barrett will also receive €46,800 annually. Former minister of state Dara Murphy receive a lump sum of €63,00 and annual payment of €21,060.

Minister of State Finian McGrath retires on €42,120 a year, Labour’s Willie Penrose will receive €46,800 annually and one-term Independent TD Dr Michael Harty will receive €9,360 a year.

Mr Doherty said of the pension revelations that “this is the system that currently exists”. The first piece of legislation he introduced as a TD was to cut the pay for TDs, ministers and officeholders, he added.

“And Sinn Féin are committed to do that if we get into government.”

Sinn Féin’s proposal to abolish the USC for the first €30,000 of salary would cost €1.2 billion while ensuring that everyone has the right to retire at 65 would cost €368 million, the party says. Increasing the State pension by €20 a week would cost €750 million.

Abolishing the property tax would cost €485 millionand cutting the 5 per cent insurance premium levy would cost €330 million.

Mr Doherty insisted that their proposals were absolutely affordable as there was a €1.4 billion surplus and their measures had been fully costed by the Department of Finance.

He said employers’ PRSI should increase by 4.5 per cent for the portion of employees’ salaries above €100,000. It was not about shrinking the tax base but rebalancing it.

The Donegal TD said there were areas of the economy that had gone untaxed including the banks, vulture funds and property developers.