That’s the view of the chief executive of ISME, Mark Fielding, after it emerged that last year 238 retiring members of the force shared a pension bonanza of €24.1m, or an average of €101,654 each.
The total payout is €1.8m down from 2014 when 249 members retired. The figures show the top 20 retirees from the force shared €2.878m last year, an average of €143,924.
The top payment made in 2014 was €262,000, but the gardaí’s freedom of information unit declined to reveal the rank and county of the top 20 recipients as it may lead to the identity of the individuals concerned.
The 238 members who retired last year included one assistant commissioner, four chief superintendents, 11 superintendents, 13 inspectors, 78 sergeants, and 131 rank-and-file gardaí.
The figures also show that 222 retirements were voluntary, with 14 compulsory and two labelled as “cost-neutral”.
The pension lump sum payments are significantly down on the payments made in 2012 and 2011 when there was a much larger number of members retiring — in 2012, 462 gardaí who retired received a total of €41.94m, with 480 retiring Gardaí in 2011 receiving a total of €46.81m in pension lump sums.
As members of higher ranks made up 45% of those to retire last year, the average retirement lump sum for rank-and-file Gardaí would be well short of the average €101,654 payment.
Gardaí can retire as young as 50 as long as they have accrued 30 years service, while members must retire on reaching the age of 60.
Pay scales go from €25,745 to €45,793 for a garda; €46,229 to €53,119 for a sergeant; €53,404 to €59,178 for an inspector; and €72,841 to €84,909 for a superintendent with chief superintendents enjoying a salary range of €87,259 to €104,457. Assistant commissioners enjoy a salary of €144,213; deputy commissioners receive a salary of €163,365; with the commissioner paid €204,386.
Members who retire on full service receive an annual pension of 50% of their final salary and a one-off gratuity of 150% of their final salary.
Mr Fielding said: “When we hear that our Gardaí can retire at 50 and we see the average lump-sums of €100,000 to the 238 retirees in 2015, on top of their pensions, it does seem that we, the taxpayers, are paying over the odds.”
A spokeswoman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the association could not comment on the figures as they don’t establish how much in lump sum payments were received by rank and file Gardaí.