Old Age Pensions Cut While the Elite Look After Themselves

Malachy Steenson discusses the pensions scandal

The issue of serving TDs re­ceiving pensions for their time as ministers, while still working, has been the subject of much debate recently. Eventually those still working as TDs indicated that they would return their pen­sions after a media onslaught.

As usual, the intent of those in the political establishment has been to protect their own and to preserve their status as the highest paid politicians in Europe. We have had the ludicrous situation where politicians claimed that their pensions were so miniscule that they would make no differ­ence to the overall economic cli­mate, these were pensions which equalled or were more than the state pension.

This greed does not confine it­self to current TDs, it extends itself right across senior establishment personnel who believe that they have a right and entitlement to be paid for the rest of their lives for doing a job for a number of years, a job for which they were grossly overpaid in the first place.

Is it right in any society that a person who served seven years as president is entitled to receive from the Irish people over six times the average industrial wage per year for the rest of their life, while the holder pursues other highly paid jobs around the world?

Peter Sutherland, the current head of Goldman Sachs Interna­tional (whose US parent company is being investigated in the US for fraud involving billions of dollars) and a former head of AIB receives one and a half times the average industrial wage for the short pe­riod of time he spent as Attorney General. Most recently Sutherland was in Ireland to hold a meeting of the Trilateral Commission which comprises the ultimate global financial elite, among them Henry Kissinger, a man wanted for war crimes by the French and Spanish judiciary.

In total €8,444,172 was paid to 251 Oireachtas pensioners and €11,000,000 was paid in ministe­rial pensions, lump sums and severance payments to senior members of the establishment elite last year.

In order to ensure that Fianna Fáil TDs did not lose out on any changes to pensions during his period as Minister for Finance Cowen amended the law. One of the main beneficiaries was Frank Fahey, who according to the Dáil register owns 18 properties includ­ing a French country house, and whose pension increased from €36,000 to €60,000.

As Cork Workers’ Party Councillor Ted Tynan has pointed out, the treatment of these ‘pensioners’ is in stark contrast to ordinary workers whose state pen­sions are now under threat from the Fianna Fáil/Green government

Tynan said; “The Pen­sion is a meagre enough payment and does not even make ends meet for people, particularly during winter when they have to spend a large part of their pension on fuel in order to keep warm.”

He added; “Minister for ‘social protection’ Eamon Ó Cuiv, a grand­son of Éamon De Valera, should know how dan­gerous it is to try and cut the pension – after all his grandfather got elected Taoiseach for the first time after a predeces­sor, Ernest Blythe took a shilling off the Old Age Pension. Blythe later lost his seat. Mr. Ó Cuiv should worry about his if he does the same.”