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€4.4 million paid out to staff of TDs who left Leinster House following the last election

199 former staff shared in the redundancy payouts, with eight ex-employees receiving packages worth more than €100,000 apiece.

shutterstock_571557040 Source: Shutterstock/ANDREA DELBO

POLITICAL STAFF EMPLOYED by TDs and senators who retired or lost their seats at the last election received generous redundancy packages that cost the taxpayer up to €4.4 million.

The packages paid to politicians’ secretaries and assistants included around €1.1 million in standard statutory redundancy, but were topped up by €3.3 million in discretionary payments under a separate scheme.

A total of 199 former staff shared the redundancy pay-pot of €4,407,943 with eight ex-employees claiming redundancy packages worth more than €100,000. The top claimant received €167,655.

Secretaries and parliamentary assistants employed by TDs or senators who either did not contest the last election – or did contest but lost their seat – were entitled to redundancy payments under Oireachtas rules.

Staff with a minimum of two years’ service were entitled to statutory redundancy, which is the equivalent of two weeks’ pay to a maximum of €600 per week for each year of service, plus one bonus week.

However, the redundancy packages of outgoing political staff were topped up under the Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) scheme, which was paid at the discretion of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The VER package amounted to four weeks’ pay per year of service, with an additional one-third bonus applying to service accrued prior to March 2011.

5464 The Dail Scenes_90514922 Dáil Éireann Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Generous terms

The scheme was originally introduced in 2011 as a means of achieving a targeted reduction in the number of people employed in the public service.

Payment of VER precludes the recipient from working in the public sector for a period of at least two years.

The generous terms of the redundancy package meant that a parliamentary assistant employed by a TD in 2011 would walk away with a tax-free payment of almost €25,000 if their TD was not re-elected to the current Dáil.

This would consist of €6,600 in statutory redundancy and a pay-out of around €18,000 under the VER scheme, calculated on a final salary of €46,558 after five years of service.

Figures released by the Houses of the Oireachtas under the Freedom of Information Act show that 22 ex-employees received redundancy packages worth more than €50,000 after the general election last year.

While the identities of the recipients were not disclosed, the data indicates that the top recipient of €167,655 was employed by a TD on a final salary of €52,200, which is the amount paid to a parliamentary assistant at the top end of the salary scale.

An individual employed by a senator was the second-highest beneficiary, leaving the Oireachtas with a redundancy package of €161,596, composed of €43,236 in statutory payments and €118,360 under the VER scheme.

The dataset may include a small number of workers who qualified for redundancy packages in circumstances other than retirement or the loss of a seat by a TD or senator.

A spokesperson for the Houses of the Oireachtas said that it is normal practice in Ireland to obtain a payment on retirement or being made redundant.

“These payments by the Oireachtas in such circumstances are in accordance with the statutory provisions which apply,” she added.

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Darragh McDonagh

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