€5.8 million in lump sums and pensions for TDs and Senators who retired or lost seats at last general election

EIGHTY-eight politicians who either retired or lost their seat after the last general election have shared a €5.8 million bonanza in pension and termination payments since.

The figures – obtained following a Freedom of Information request to the Oireachtas – reveal that 29 retired politicians have received golden handshakes worth over €2.7 million in the form of pension lump sums.

Another €1.13 million was paid out to 86 politicians in what is known as a termination lump sum, which is paid to those of pension age but also younger politicians who have lost or vacated their seats.

A total of €1.75 million has been paid out in termination pay, which is a step-down payment for departing TDs and Senators that can be paid for up to a year depending on length of service.

A much smaller amount of just over €188,000 has been paid to the recently departed politicians in ordinary pension payments.

The actual pension payments have been small so far because most of the ex-politicians have only just moved onto the regular pension roll, having been in receipt of termination pay for the first six months after leaving Dáil and Seanad Éireann.

The beneficiaries of the more than €2.7 million in pension lump sums include several former ministers from both Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

It is open to former politicians to gift or refund parts of their pension payments and some have chosen to do so in the past.

However, the Oireachtas does not release details of such gifting under FOI as they consider it to be personal information relating to the individual politician.

According to the records released, former TD Emmett Stagg has been paid just over €215,000 by the Oireachtas since the general election in March.

That includes a lump sum of €158,509 paid after 29 consecutive years of service in the Dáil until he lost his seat in Kildare North earlier this year.

Also included is a termination lump sum of €15,929, termination pay of €35,815, and pension payments to date of €5,207.

In addition, Mr Stagg is also entitled to a ministerial pension, which is paid separately by the Department of Finance and covers his time as an officeholder.

The second highest payments are listed for Fine Gael TD Dan Neville, with just over €209,000 in payments recorded including a lump sum of just over €153,000.

Also listed in the records as receiving in excess of €200,000 is the former Fianna Fáil TD John Browne. He is also entitled to a separate ministerial pension.

The fourth highest payment recorded was to former Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte who is listed as having been paid just over €196,000.

That included a lump sum of €143,000 and Mr Rabbitte also is entitled to a separate Department of Finance pension for his several stints as a minister.

Payments in excess of €190,000 are also listed as having been made to five other former politicians by the Oireachtas.

They were: Labour’s Ruairi Quinn (€190,628), Fianna Fáil’s Seamus Kirk (€194,348), Fianna Fáil’s Michael Kitt (€194,120), Fine Gael’s Dinny McGinley (€194,000), and Labour’s Eamon Gilmore (€190,706).

Four of them would also be entitled to separate ministerial pensions from the Department of Finance. Mr Kitt is not however, not having served as a minister but he was the Leas-Ceann Comhairle for his last five years in Leinster House.

Former Fine Gael TD John Perry, who was back in the headlines this week after a settlement agreement over €2.47 million in debt from Danske Bank broke down, is also listed.

According to the Oireachtas, Mr Perry has received just over €180,000 in termination and pension payments since March.

That was made up of €137,292 in a pension lump sum, a termination lump sum of €15,059, termination pay of €5,647 and €23,210 in his pension.

He would also be entitled to a small annual pension from the Department of Finance from when he served as junior minister at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The Top Fifteen Payments

oireachtas-pensions

A statement from the Oireachtas said: “The payments made are in accordance with the rules and regulations of the contributory pension scheme for members. Members also pay the Public Service Pension Related Deduction in addition to the 13% for the pension scheme.”

In a separate note, they said all payments were gross figures and that net payments may be “significantly lower” after deductions.

They also said pension is only payable after termination pay has ended and the two types of payment cannot be received at the same time.

All of the monthly termination payments and normal pension payments are subject to the rates of tax, PRSI, and other levies that would apply to all other taxpayers.

The termination lump sum is treated as a redundancy payment for tax purposes and is also subject to PRSI, according to Oireachtas guidelines.

The pension lump sum however, is tax-free within Revenue rules with tax only kicking in on amounts that exceed €200,000.

Two provisos to the picture above and the data below. There are instances where TDs with long public service (in for instance education) served just a single term in the Oireachtas so any calculations below reflect both the previous job and their political career.

Similarly, there are a couple of cases where lump sums would have been previously paid to TDs if say they had lost their seat before and regained it at a subsequent election.

An edited version of this article appeared in the Sunday Times and the Irish Mail on Sunday.

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