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Revealed: the full cost of dumping our outgoing government TDs

The first-year pensions of the 41 Fianna Fáil and Green TDs who failed to keep their seats underlines the price of change.

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, in 2008: 35 of the party's outgoing TDs failed to win reelection.
The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, in 2008: 35 of the party's outgoing TDs failed to win reelection.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

Updated, March 19

THE 41 OUTGOING TDs from Fianna Fáil and the Green Party who tried – and failed – to keep their seats in the Dáil will be comforted with payoffs with over €5.5 million between them.

The TDs – 35 of whom were from Fianna Fáil, while all six outgoing Greens also lost their seats – will benefit from a combined first-year payoff of €5,547,335.92, according to figures compiled by TheJournal.ie.

Those first-year payoffs include ministerial severance payments for defeated ministers Mary Coughlan, Mary Hanafin and Pat Carey, as well as former Green ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan who only become entitled to their ministerial severances having lost their Dáil seats.

First-year totals also include the lump sum from their TDs’ pensions – the equivalent to three years of their annual pensions – as well as severance payments in respect of their time as deputies.

For every year thereafter, the beaten TDs will receive pensions, between their ministerial and parliamentary payments, of €1,653,263.27.

The top earner is beaten Tánaiste Mary Coughlan - having served three years as Tánaiste and six years previously as a minister, while having spent 24 years a TD, her golden handshake is €303,357 – while she will benefit to the tune of €130,162 every year thereafter.

Next are longstanding former ministers Mary O’Rourke, beaten in Longford Westmeath, and fallen former Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue: each has more than a decade of ministerial experience, as well as over 20 years serving as a TD: meaning each can enjoy an initial payoff of €301,489.15 to soften the blow of electoral defeat.

Dick Roche, who was beaten after a comprehensive recheck in Wicklow, receives a first-year payout of €265,279, while beaten ministers Mary Hanafin and Pat Carey will receive 242,105 and €231,344 respectively in their first twelve months out of office.

Proving the value of extended careers on the back benches, Michael Ahern and Frank Fahey both receive €226,487 in initial redundancy, and €€53,291 for every year thereafter.

John Gormley is the best-performing of the Greens – as the party’s second longest-serving TD, and the one with the longest ministerial career, he receives €203,392 in the next twelve months, while Eamon Ryan is entitled to €134,792 for the same period.

If all 42 had been re-elected, and both Fianna Fáil and the Greens had ended up in opposition, their combined salaries would have reached just under €4m, including leaders’ and whip’s allowances.

New Oireachtas regulations state that former ministers who are returned to the next Dáil will not gain their ministerial pensions until after retirement from politics; in previous years, that bill would have been higher as 22 of the defeated TDs had experience in the cabinet, or as ministers of state.

A number of the fallen TDs – the likes of ousted junior ministers Barry Andrews, for example – will not receive all of their allowances immediately; TDs do not receive pensions until they turn 50, though they can accept reduced pensions at 45.

Ministerial pensions, meanwhile, are also not paid to retirees under 50 – or until they turn 65, in the case of defeated TDs who first took ministerial office after 2004.

Our total does not include TDs who had already announced their intentions to step down at the 2011 election, or who had failed to win their party’s nomination to seek re-election.

The numbers given are also pre-tax – though deputies do not pay any tax on their pension lump sums, which peak at €159,873 for TDs who have served twenty years or more in the Dáil.

What’s your beaten government TD going to earn? View our full list >

Note: This story originally appeared with the headline figure of €7,065,176, though this was based on calculations that mistakenly included one TD who had retained their seat, and an inappropriate interpretation of the rules on termination payments. Our thanks to the readers who spotted our errors.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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