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Over €4.1m in pensions paid to former ministers last year

Most current government ministers entitled to pensions from previous ministerial posts surrendered them last year but Finance Minister Michael Noonan didn’t. Bertie Ahern handed back some of his annual pension.

Albert Reynolds and Dick Spring were among those who did not surrender their pensions last year
Albert Reynolds and Dick Spring were among those who did not surrender their pensions last year
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

OVER €4.1 MILLION was paid in pensions to former ministers last year, according to figures from the Department of Finance.

The figures reveal that a number of former ministers surrendered all or part of their pension in 2011 with a total of €178,678.73 handed back to the Exchequer, which is around 4 per cent of the total amount paid out.

Most former ministers kept their pension payments.

Former tánaiste and justice minister Michael McDowell received the biggest pension payment last year getting a total of €173,683.48 but this included an underpayment of €142,877 in respect of 2011 and previous years.

Most current government ministers who have held ministerial posts in previous governments and received a pension for it surrendered these payments last year.

However Finance Minister Michael Noonan did not give up the €5,571.82 he received in 2011. He was held the justice, health and industry portfolios in previous Fine Gael administrations.

Those who surrendered their pensions include Jobs Minister Richard Bruton (€1,926.60), Social Protection Minister Joan Burton (€1,123.42), Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan (€798.12), and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte (€800.23).

Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore (€797.49) and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (€2,050.51) also surrendered their pensions last year.

Some former ministers surrendered part of their pension earnings, these included former taoiseach Bertie Ahern who gave up €14,618.18 of his €83,341.82 gross pension payment.

His fellow former Fianna Fáil minister Michael Woods gave up €4,168.86 of his €64,163.30 pension payment last year while former European commissioner Marie Geoghegan- Quinn handed back her entire €59,895.71 pension in 2011.

President Michael D Higgins also surrendered €6,611.68 last year despite only receiving €5,952.70 in pension payments. His former presidential rival and current Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell surrendered his entire €4,611.36 ministerial pension in 2011.

Mitchell’s European colleague, Labour MEP Pronsias de Rossa, also surrendered his entire €10,595.26 pension.

Former taoiseach Albert Reynolds (€99,681.75) and former tánaiste Dick Spring (€71,061.75) were among those who did not surrender their pensions last year as was the case for former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn (€47,848.09).

Former Fianna Fáil minister Ivor Callely surrendered the lowest amount, handing back €258.06 of his €11,620.61 pension last year.

In full: The former ministers who did and did not hand back their pensions last year >

Read: 30 former government ministers receive pensions of over €100k

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Hugh O'Connell

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