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.