There is outrage among government backbenchers after it was revealed that disgraced former 26-County Prime Ministers, Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern (pictured, left and right), are to have thousands of euro a year added to their already inflated pensions.
The former leaders currently take in around 134,000 euro a year, but are expected to get a further ‘top-up’ of around 2,000 euro.
The payments come as the coalition government slashed benefits payments to struggling one-parent families and as a housing crisis is forcing groups of homeless to ‘liberate’ empty properties in Dublin.
The two Taoisigh, blamed for the property boom-and-bust that wrecked the economy, are to receive the increase as a result of a side deal to the Lansdowne Road agreement on public sector pay.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, has said the state had no power to stop the pension increase, a claim which has been widely ridiculed.
A recent television investigation revealed five former politicians have been paid over 600,000 euro since the 2011 General Election, the two ex-Taoisigh and former Ministers Mary Harney, Michael Woods and Dermot Ahern
Sixteen individuals were paid over half a million euro each, including former Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton and ex-Labour leader Dick Spring.
Renua party leader, Lucinda Creighton said that Cowen and Ahern “should be stripped of their pensions instead of securing another nice little bonus.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has suggested former senior politicians in receipt of ministerial pensions should decline an increase because of the “fragile” state of the economy.
“I would say to the small number involved here. They’re former politicians. We’re in a fragile position economically. I would say to them: refuse the increase that is coming back.”
There was also personal criticism of Kenny this week after he spent almost ten thousand euro on an “urgent” flight on a private government Learjet -- after spending the day meeting local Fine Gael councillors and opening a new constituency office in Mayo.
A Fine Gael party meeting became heated as backbenchers turned on Mr Kenny. There were angry scenes at the meeting as TDs warned of a backlash from voters unless the pension top-ups are blocked. Several backbenchers demanded the Cabinet introduce legislation to prevent the pension top-ups.
Mr Griffin from Kerry South described the top-ups as “disgusting”, while colleague Jerry Buttimer described the increases as “gross”.
“It was like he was living in a different world,” said one deputy present. “The public won’t forgive us for it,” said another.