THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has said it will not consider any moves to strip former Irish commissioner Pádraig Flynn of his European pension unless Flynn is convicted of an offence in court.
Several MEPs had called for Flynn’s pension – thought to be worth around €50,000 a year – to be stripped after the final report of the Mahon Tribunal said he had acted corruptly in taking a donation intended for the Fianna Fáil party and keeping it for himself.
In response to contact from Labour MEP Nessa Childers, however, current commissioner Maros Sefcovic – whose brief includes the administration of the Commission itself – said any such proposal could not be considered as yet.
Proposals to strip him of his pension would only be dealt with if Flynn was convicted of an offence in a criminal court.
“The Commission’s understanding is that the findings of the Mahon Tribunal have been referred to the Criminal Assets Bureau and do not represent the verdict of a court after due process,” Sefcovic said in a letter to Childers seen by TheJournal.ie.
“Therefore, the Commission will await the outcome of the referral of the findings of the Mahon Tribunal before taking a decision on this matter,” he added.
He added, however, that the Tribunal’s findings “appear at first sight to be a matter of serious concern and I fully understand that there is widespread anger among Irish citizens”.
Existing EU treaties require commissioners to behave appropriately in connection with any appointments or benefits they receive after they have held office.
They also allow the European Court of Justice to consider a request from the European Council – the group of political leaders of all EU member states – or the current Commission that a former commissioner be stripped of their pension rights.
Although the alleged IR£50,000 payment from developer Tom Gilmartin occurred while Flynn was a cabinet minister, the Tribunal also found that Flynn had falsely contrived documents while a Commissioner in order to portray the donation as a personal one.
The Tribunal also rejected evidence given by Flynn between 2004 and 2006, after his retirement as a commissioner, on the nature of the donations he received during his time in Irish politics.
Childers remained positive about the response, welcoming the acknowledgement from Sefcovic about the concern among the Irish people, and saying Flynn had “disgraced Ireland’s good name in Europe”.