Sum for outgoing TDs tops €13m

 

TD PAYMENTS: OUTGOING TDs from the 30th Dáil are to receive more than €13 million in pension lump sums and termination payments over the course of the next year according to figures compiled by The Irish Times.

This figure excludes any outgoing Ministers’ severance payments as the Department of Finance could not disclose individual members’ pension payments.

The €13 million figure is the total of “lump sum entitlements” for departing TDs as detailed in the accompanying graphic.

The outgoing TDs will also receive a cumulative total of more than €4 million annually, although TDs who are under the age of 50 will not receive their full pension entitlement until they reach this age.

Retiring and outgoing Fianna Fáil TDs will receive more than €8.5 million in pension lump sums and termination payments, not including ministerial severance/pension payments.

The two highest pension entitlement recipients are Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern who will receive in the region of €350,000 in the year following their retirement once their ministerial pensions are taken into account. Each man will also receive about €165,000 annually once all lump sum, termination payments have been completed.

In addition to the pension payments, the two men will be entitled to a car and two garda drivers, two secretarial assistants for a period of five years and one thereafter, payment of mobile phone charges and a diplomatic passport.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach’s office said the arrangements had been put in place in 2001 to “facilitate former taoisigh in carrying out their ongoing public roles including as members of the Council of State (where they have a formal duty to advise the President), as well as their participation in public events, dealing with correspondence and contributing to public life, including co-operating with researchers in various areas such as history, administration and political science”.

Other high-ranking retirees include Minister for Health and Tánaiste Mary Harney who is entitled to about €320,000 in the next year if she chooses to draw down her ministerial pension on top of other pension entitlements.

Over the course of the next year outgoing TDs will receive payments.

The first, a pension lump sum, is worked out from a TD’s salary as per the 2008 rate, which is about 7.5 per cent more than the figure to which TDs are entitled, and depends on how long the politician has served in office. This figure is taxable.

A second payment, called a termination lump sum, is based upon two month’s of a TD’s salary: the basic salary for a TD is €92,672 although up until and including this tranche of retirees long-service increments applied to those with more than seven years’ service and more than 10 years’ service receiving €95,550 and €98,424 respectively. This payment is non-taxable.

On top of this a TD is entitled to a series of termination payments depending on their years in office. Those TDs with 14 years service or more are entitled to receive the equivalent of three-quarters of their monthly salary for six months and 50 per cent of their monthly salary. Those who have served fewer years receive fewer of these payments based on a sliding scale. These payments are taxable.

Only when all pension lump sum and termination payments have ceased does a TD receive his or her annual pension.

In addition, TDs who have served as ministers also receive a separate annual pension payment based on a percentage of their ministerial salary. Outgoing Ministers can, for the first two years, opt for either a severance payment or receive their ministerial pension entitlements now.

Commenting on the pension payments for outgoing TDs and Ministers last night a spokesman for Fine Gael said the party “will abolish severance pay for ministers. We will restrict the payment of pensions to politicians so that a pension can only be received after someone has ceased to be a TD and reached the national retirement age (currently 65). We will cap taxpayers’ subsidies for pension schemes for politicians (and indeed for everybody) that deliver income in retirement of more than €60,000.”

HOW THE PAYOUTS ARE MADE UP

Figures are estimates based on guidelines provided to The Irish Timesby the Oireachtas and Department of Finance press offices. The figures do not include pension payments arising out of years served in the Seanad or tenure as committee chairs. A TD’s pension is payable only once their termination payments have been completed.

Lump sum entitlementis calculated as the TD pension lump sum plus the TD’s termination pay.

Annual pensionis calculated as the annual TD pension plus annual ministerial pension where applicable.

Legend:
* To qualify for a full pension and lump sum a former TD must be 50 years of age while a reduced pension may be paid at any time between the ages of 45 and 49
** This TD/Minister is known to come under the old pension scheme. According to both the Department of Finance and the Oireachtas press offices, this older scheme applies in a minority of cases.