WHEN you think about protected species in Ireland, the Natterjack toad and Kerry slug might come to mind, as they are endangered. But how about politicians and solicitors?
The generous pensions that Government ministers receive has been declared a state secret, with the Department of Finance citing new GDPR rules for refusing to disclose them. But diligent sleuthing by the Irish Examiner’s Political Editor, Daniel McConnell, reveals that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, and Communications Minister Richard Bruton are sitting on a shared pension pot of €5m.
Nice work, if you can get it. Almost as nice as the way solicitors are allowed control so-called ‘client accounts’ under a system that is under-regulated and open to the gravest abuse.
The High Court has heard that there is a €600,000 ‘deficit’ in the client account of Roscommon solicitor Declan O’Callaghan. He also withheld €450,000 of an award to a young man paralysed in a car crash and paid himself what were described as ‘extortionate’ fees of €344,000 out of a child’s estate.
Why is it that the amount of ministerial pensions is not available to the people who pay them – the taxpayer?
Why is it that we persist with a system where solicitors can control – and abuse - money that does not belong to them?
Answer: they have the status of the Natterjack toad and Kerry slug. They are a protected species.
Unfortunately, neither are endangered.