Senators to share €440,000 windfall

THIRTEEN recently elected members of the Seanad are to share a windfall of almost €440,000.

Senators to share €440,000 windfall

The payments stem from their entitlement to gratuities following their resignations from local authorities.

One Fine Gael pair, Michael Mullins and Terry Brennan, are entitled to receive €47,710 each, having served on local authorities between 1985 and 2011.

In all, the 13 senators are to share €434,174.

However, they must be over 50 years of age before they can receive the gratuity which is taxable.

Newly elected members of the Dáil who resigned from councils to take their Dáil seats are also entitled to a gratuity, which is paid out by a local authority.

Eight of the qualifying senators are Fine Gael, four are Labour and one is Sinn Féin.

On becoming senators, the former councillors are now in receipt of an annual salary of €65,621 per annum plus expenses.

Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane, entitled to €23,100, yesterday hit out at the gratuity payment system.

“The payments should be made when a person is of pensionable age — not when they are 50 or over and they are moving into a new job in the Senate with a very generous salary and expenses. To be taking money from cash strapped local authorities in those circumstances is wrong. Again, it is another example of the ruling class making decisions to suit themselves.”

Senator Brennan, a former Louth councillor, said: “I don’t know what I’m entitled to. I haven’t even applied (for the payment). ”

Senator Mullins said: “I haven’t enquired with Galway County Council over the payment. I haven’t pursued it. If there is something there, I am happy to leave it there until I retire from politics. I know very little about it.”

And ex-Clare Co Council member, Senator Tony Mulcahy (FG) due to receive €37,104, said: “Councillors don’t get any pension but pay a pension levy. I would much prefer a pension that we can take when we get to pension age.”

Former Clare councillor, Senator Martin Conway (FG) will not receive his €23,100 gratuity for another 13 years in 2024 when he turns 50. He said: “The country is effectively bankrupt at the moment and if my gratuity is there in 2024, I would be delighted and if it’s not, it’s not.”

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said last night “any changes to the current scheme will be framed in light of a continuing review of local government system”.

He added: “The payment of gratuities is an element of the regime which, among other things, dealt with the ending of the dual mandate whereby a member of the Oireachtas must cease to be a member of a local authority. “It is a matter for each entitled individual concerned whether he/she accepts, defers or forgoes a gratuity.”

The payment of a gratuity does not disallow an individual from contesting a future local election.

Senators windfall

Senators entitled to receive local authority gratuity payments:

* Michael Mullins (FG): Galway County Council €47,710.

* Terry Brennan (FG): Louth County Council €47,710.

* Cait Keane (FG): South Dublin County Council €42,726.

* Denis Landy (Lab): South Tipperary Council €42,726.

* Jimmy Harte (Lab): Donegal County Council €40,584.

* Jim Darcy (FG): Louth County Council €37,104.

* Tony Mulcahy (FG): Clare Co Council €37,104.

* Martin Conway (FG): Clare Co Council €23,100.

* Patrick O’Neill (FG): Kilkenny Co Council €23,100.

* Imelda Henry (FG): Sligo County Council €23,100.

* John Gilroy (Lab) Cork County Council €23,100.

* John Kelly (Lab) Roscommon County Council €23,100.

* David Cullinane (SF) Waterford City Council €23,100.

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