Bill for ministers’ pensions falls to €3.7m

The cost of paying pensions to former ministers has fallen by almost €700,000 to just over €3.7m over the past three years.

Brendan Howlin: Some had 'gifted' pensions to State

The 16% overall cut in ministerial pensions for 119 former members of the Cabinet has resulted from measures taken by the Government to reduce the size of the public service pension bill.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin published figures which show the total annual bill for ministerial pensions was over €4.4m prior to the introduction of the Public Service Pension Reduction in January 2011.

The figures do not include separate payment of their pensions as former TDs which were also subject to similar reductions.

Details of the pension payments to former ministers — including several taoisigh — were released in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil TD, Seán Ó Fearghail.

They reveal that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, now receives the single largest ministerial pension at €81,140 per year. The former Fianna Fáil leader has seen his pension value fall 27% to €30,0000.

However, former minister David Andrews suffered the largest loss of pension income when the value of his fell by almost €31,000 — a reduction of almost 40%.

Other former taoisigh, Brian Cowen, Albert Reynolds, and John Bruton also had their pensions reduced by 27% or around €30,000. Mr Cowen’s ministerial pension now stands at €81,088, while Mr Reynolds receives just over €80,000 and the former Fine Gael leader gets €73,159.

The next highest earner, former tánaiste and former leader of the Progressive Democrats, Mary Harney, saw no cut in her pension, which remains at €65,310 per annum.

All public service pensions worth more than €32,500 annually were reduced in July 2013 under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 as part of the Haddington Road Agreement.

Further cuts were applied in September 2013 for individuals who receive two or more public service pensions with a combined value in excess of €32,500 under the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 as a result of “aggregation” for Public Service Pension Reduction purposes.

Mr Howlin said the figures in certain cases did not reflect the actual amount as some former ministers had “gifted” all or part of their pension to the State or it was subject to certain provisions of the Family Law Acts.

He said such information was not released because of its personal nature.

However, it is known some former office holders including Máire Geoghegan Quinn, President Michael D Higgins, and Proinsias de Rossa have returned some or all of their pensions.

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