Overpaid former TDs owe €42k to pension scheme

Former politicians owe the State €42,300 as a result of overpayments to pensions.

Overpaid former TDs owe €42k to pension scheme

The latest annual report of the Houses of the Oireachtas pension scheme show over €28,000 in overpayments was paid back last year by ex-TDs and senators.

The Oireachtas also confirmed it has written off a balance of almost €10,000, still owing from the estate of a deceased politician.

It is understood that the trustees of the scheme, which include the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Denis O’Donovan, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Pascal Donohoe, decided the money was no longer recoverable.

On grounds of data protection, an Oireachtas spokesperson declined to reveal the identity of the deceased politician whose debt was cancelled.

Almost €24,000 of the money still outstanding relates to a review carried out in 2004 which uncovered overpayments of over €212,000 to TDs and senators and their surviving partners as well as another review conducted in 2010 which revealed further overpayments of €65,326.

“These amounts are being recouped,” said the Oireachtas spokesperson.

Separately, overpayments of almost €82,000 in allowances to holders of specified positions including Oireachtas committee chairpersons were identified in September 2011 by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Money outstanding from this error stood at €18,369 at the end of last year after around €21,000 was repaid during 2015.

The Oireachtas said all monies had been repaid from other errors which arose after the aggregation of pensions held by TDs and senators in 2013 and which led to overpayments of €9,586 to 13 retired politicians.

Another former minister who had drawn down a ministerial pension which had not been aggregated with their Oireachtas pension has agreed to repay an overpayment of €9,334 over two years.

The Oireachtas pension scheme generated controversy in 2012 when the late Kerry TD, Jackie Healy-Rae, resisted attempts to return over €14,000 he had been overpaid to his pension. At the time, Mr Healy-Rae said he was not in a position to repay the €14,516 which the Oireachtas was seeking to have reimbursed.

He had been consulting with an accountant about the situation but claimed whoever was responsible for the mistake should “make the call on this”. Although he insisted it was unfair, Mr Healy-Rae eventually agreed to repay the money.

The pension scheme’s annual report reveals that, of the €11.62m paid into the fund last year, contributions by TDs and senators amounted to €900,927, The remainder came from grant-in-aid by the Oireachtas.

It paid out over €11.5m in pensions, in addition to one lump sum payment of €92,672. The scheme. however, moved into the red last year with a deficit of almost €26,500.

Meanwhile, in 2001, it was decided contributions by TDs and senators to the scheme cease once they completed 20 years of service.

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