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Two years’ service means ministers now guaranteed to receive pensions

The government was appointed two years ago today – meaning senior ministers now have enough service for a pension.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

CABINET MINISTERS today mark the exact second anniversary of their appointment – meaning they are now entitled to pensions in respect of their time in office.

Enda Kenny’s cabinet was formed on March 9, 2011 – with today’s anniversary bringing the senior ministers over the threshold that guarantees them a pension for life once they step down from office.

Five of the fifteen ministers, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, already had pension entitlements because they had served in cabinet before – but Kenny’s promotion to Taoiseach, and the new service of ten of his ministers, mean they can now expect extra pensions.

If he were to resign today, Kenny would receive an annual pension of €21,466 for his two years as Taoiseach, on top of over €15,000 he would receive after serving as Minister for Tourism and Trade in the Rainbow Coalition between 1994 and 1997.

Eamon Gilmore would receive €18,347 a year for his two years as Tánaiste – separate to nearly €7,500 he would receive having served as a junior minister in the same government in the 1990s.

Other ministers would now entitled to €15,321 a year if they were to resign immediately.

Longer careers reap bigger pensions

In some cases, veteran ministers with previous cabinet experience would receive considerably more. Michael Noonan’s nine years in cabinet, as the minister responsible for Justice, Industry, Health and now Finance, mean he would receive over €42,000 a year – almost double what Kenny would receive at present.

This would change in coming years, however, as Noonan would reach the maximum of ten years’ service taken into account for a pension, while Kenny’s pension for his time as Taoiseach would continue to rise.

Kenny’s pension as Taoiseach is significantly lower than those of his predecessors because of his relatively short cabinet career. Bertie Ahern’s ten years as Taoiseach mean his pension is the maximum that any minister could accrue, while Brian Cowen served 13 years in cabinet before his time as Taoiseach.

The cut to the Taoiseach’s salary, which has nearly halved in the last five years, also means the pensions accrued are much smaller.

Other Labour ministers from the Rainbow Coalition era, including Ruairí Quinn and Brendan Howlin, would see their pensions rise to over €30,000 as a result of previous service.

13 of the 14 current junior ministers, meanwhile – all but Joe Costello, who was not appointed until December – will be in line to receive annual pensions of €7,474 when they mark two years of service tomorrow.

These pensions are separate to the parliamentary pensions that ministers would also be entitled to, in respect of their time serving in the Dáil or Seanad.

Ten of the 15 cabinet ministers, including Kenny and Gilmore, have served the maximum 20 years that can be taken into account for a parliamentary pension – giving them €46,336 a year.

Parliamentary pensions are preceded by a lump sum equivalent to three years’ worth of their annual payment – a maximum of €139,008 – while people leaving ministerial office receive a severance payment when they leave office.

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