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Former minister received €7,400 in pension entitlements - by accident

Fianna Fáil’s John Browne was mistakenly paid €7,396.31 in ministerial pensions – which he’s not entitled to as a sitting TD.

John Browne was a junior minister for four years - but is not entitled to his ministerial pension yet, because he is still a TD.
John Browne was a junior minister for four years - but is not entitled to his ministerial pension yet, because he is still a TD.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated, 10.17

THE DEPARTMENT of Public Expenditure has apologised to a Fianna Fáil TD and former junior minister after it was forced to ask him to repay almost €7,400 in pension payments to which he was not entitled.

John Browne, a TD for Wexford, had wrongly received €7,396.31 in pension payments in respect of his service as a junior minister – which he is not permitted to receive while he remains a sitting TD.

The error came to light after a parliamentary question tabled by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, asking about the ministerial pensions currently paid out by the Department, uncovered payments of €55,202.36 to a ‘John Browne’.

This figure had mistakenly combined two different John Brownes – the current Wexford TD, who has been elected at each of the last eight general elections, and a former Fine Gael TD for Carlow-Kilkenny who served as a TD for 13 years and a senator for four years.

The number had combined the parliamentary pension of €44,220.60, being paid to the latter, and a ministerial pension of €10,981.76 being paid to the former.

Adams had called on Browne to make a full public statement to the Dail on the pensions, saying it was “disgraceful” that Browne had been in receipt of a ministerial pension to which he was not entitled.

It is understood that Browne had not realised he was in receipt of a ministerial pension, to which he was not entitled – because ministerial pensions should not be paid to sitting TDs under new guidelines.

A Department spokesperson said the sitting Browne had been contacted “to apologise for the embarrassment caused”. Arrangements are now being put in place to allow the pension repayments to be returned to the Department.

“A check of the payment system has confirmed that no ministerial pension is being paid to sitting members other than Deputy Browne,” the spokesperson confirmed.

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Officials have also written to Adams to apologise for the error in compiling the answers to his parliamentary question.

Fianna Fáil’s Browne, who remains the party’s spokesman on the Marine and Fisheries, was a junior minister for four years under successive Bertie Ahern governments.

He was a minister of state at the Department of Agriculture between 2002 and 2004, and again between 2006 and 2008.

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

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Gavan Reilly

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