State cites GDPR for refusal to reveal TD pensions

The Government has been accused of “hiding” behind GDPR rules to prevent transparency and accountability after it emerged it will no longer release details of pension payments to former senior office holders.

State cites GDPR for refusal to reveal TD pensions

The Government has been accused of “hiding” behind GDPR rules to prevent transparency and accountability after it emerged it will no longer release details of pension payments to former senior office holders.

The Irish Examiner has confirmed that the Department of Finance is refusing to publish new details of pension payments to former taoisigh such as Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen this year, despite doing so for decades. Last year, the finance accounts showed Mr Ahern and Mr Cowen were both paid €81,209 in ministerial pension payments.

The details of pension payments to former ministers and other senior office holders are being withheld because of new GDPR rules, the department has stated.

Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats blasted the Government for “hiding” behind those rules to prevent transparency and accountability.

I am concerned that GDPR is being used to not release the information,” she said. “We should not be hiding behind something and not producing something that should be produced, especially when it is public money.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, and Communications Minister Richard Bruton are sitting on a massive shared pension pot of €5m.

They are the three remaining ministers who have served at Cabinet every day since Fine Gael came to power in 2011.

Mr Varadkar, since becoming Taoiseach last year, has seen his pension entitlements enhance greatly. Mr Coveney, 20 years a TD since last month, is now entitled to the maximum retirement benefit from Dáil Éireann.

Mr Bruton, who has more than three decades of service behind him, is also entitled to the maximum pension benefits from the Dáil.

He earns €93,599 as a TD and a further €73,456 as a minister, a total annual salary of €167,055. Having much more than the maximum 20 years service as a TD, he is entitled to the maximum benefits, which include termination payments of €74,069, a lump-sum payment of €140,398 and an annual pension for the rest of his life of €46,799.

On top of this, we calculate that he is entitled to an annual ministerial pension of €36,728. So combined, his annual pre-tax pension is worth €83,527, giving him an estimated retirement fund worth €1.8m.

Mr Coveney also earns €93,599 as a TD but, as Tánaiste, earns an additional €88,284, giving him a total annual salary of €181,883. As he also now has 20 years’ service, he is also entitled to €74,069 in Dáil termination payments, plus a lump sum of €140,398.

He is also entitled to an annual TD’s pension of €46,799 but, on top of that, his ministerial pension with seven years’ service is calculated to be worth €39,727 a year. In total, this would entitle him to an estimated pension pot of €1.9m.

Mr Varadkar, who only became a TD in 2007, has a fund now worth €1.6m. His fund, however, will increase significantly as his time in office continues.

He is also paid €93,599 as a TD but gets an additional €103,587 for being head of Government.

He would get a lower TD pension of €25,739 a year after he received termination payments worth €62,375 and a lump sum of €70,199.

His ministerial pension has now been greatly enhanced because of his time as Taoiseach and all his seven years as a minister can be treated at the higher Taoiseach rate for the purposes of his pension.

This means in total he is entitled to an annual combined pension of €72,321 already.

Numbers game

Richard Bruton

First elected: February 1982, (36 years served as TD)

Total years as minister: 10.5 years

Estimated total retirement pot: €1.8m

Simon Coveney

First elected: October 1998, (20 years served as TD)

Total years as minister: Seven years

Estimated total retirement pot: €1.9m

Leo Varadkar

First elected: June 2007, (11 years served as TD)

Total years as minister: seven years

Estimated total retirement pot: €1.6m

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