Ray Burke paid €41,492 pension as ex-minister

 

The former minister for foreign affairs Mr Ray Burke received a ministerial pension last year of €41,492, according to new accounts published by the Government, reports Arthur Beesley, Political Reporter

Mr Burke faces a tax demand for €2 million. He has sought free legal aid after pleading not guilty to criminal proceedings brought against him for making false returns under the 1993 tax amnesty. He also issued legal proceedings earlier this month to prevent anyone being appointed to deal with his €10.5 million legal bill other than Mr Justice Feargus Flood.

Mr Burke is paid a ministerial pension in addition to the pension he receives for his years as a TD. This contributory pension, worth some €38,000 last year, was increased by 2.95 per cent last summer as part of the benchmarking process. It will rise by 5.85 per cent at the start of the new year when the next benchmarking increases are given.

While ministerial pensions are not benchmarked, they rise in line with pay rounds under the social partnership agreements.

The annual Finance accounts for 2002 show that the State's total expenditure on such pensions last year was €2.89 million. The expenditure on judges' pensions, retirement lump sums and death gratuities was €4.94 million.

The accounts show that the President, Mrs McAleese, received personal remuneration last year of €223,667 and an annual allowance of €317,434.

The State also paid €5.7 million in expenses to the leaders of the Government and Opposition last year. The political parties received €4.34 million. Candidates in the general election received €189,170. The State also paid €197,971 in severance payments to politicians demoted from the cabinet or from junior ministries during 2002.

The list of office-holders' and ministerial pensions disclosed yesterday included €79,780 paid to the former taoiseach, Mr Charles Haughey. He also receives a TD's pension.

The family of Mr Haughey, who is suffering from prostate cancer, made a €5 million settlement with Revenue last March for "outstanding tax liabilities". Mr Haughey made a separate settlement of €1.28 million in 2000.

Pensions paid to other former taoisigh included: €78,770 paid to Mr John Bruton; €78,703 to Mr Albert Reynolds; €74,794 to Dr Garrett FitzGerald; and €59,835 to Mr Liam Cosgrave.

Former presidents Mrs Mary Robinson and Dr Paddy Hillary each received pensions last year of €111,164. Dr Hillary also received a ministerial pension of €31,542.

Mrs Rita Childers, widow of the former president Mr Erskine H. Childers, received €55,583.

Pensions to former attorneys general included €51,950 paid to businessman Mr Peter Sutherland. Barristers such as Mr Harry Whelehan received €440,830; Mr Dermot Gleeson received €36,085; Mr John Rogers received €47,319. The EU Commissioner, Mr David Byrne, received €32,314 for his time as attorney general.

Retired Fianna Fáil ministers on the pension list included: Mrs Máire Geoghegan-Quinn €51,378; Mr Gerry Collins €40,485; Mr Padraig Flynn €36,778; Mr David Andrews €33,745; Mr Ray MacSharry €29,797; Mr John O'Connell €19,729; and Mr Seán Doherty €15,509.

Former Fine Gael ministers included: Mr Peter Barry €46,873; Mr Paddy Cooney €40,485; Mr Austin Deasy €26,954; Mr Michael Noonan €32,334; and Ms Nora Owen €16,318.

Former Labour ministers included: Mr Dick Spring €50,382; Mr Ruairí Quinn €30,884; and Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien €27,224.

The sitting Fianna Fáil TD Dr Michael Woods received a €35,723 severance payment when he retired from the cabinet last year. Fianna Fáil TDs who received severance payments when they lost their junior ministries included: Mr Ned O'Keeffe €15,852; Mr Eoin Ryan 15,589; and Mr Dan Wallace €15,589. The PD TD Ms Liz O'Donnell received €16,069 when she returned to the back benches for family reasons.