YOU couldn’t make it up. Having resigned as Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter will, of course, continue to receive his €87,000-a-year TD’s salary for as long as he is elected.
When he’s no longer a TD, he will be able to draw a ministerial pension of about €80,000 a year, just to help him get by. And with the country’s finances being the way they are, you’d have thought that was the end of the gravy train. But you’d be wrong.
There has long been a tradition that when a minister quits office, he gets a golden handshake, the so-called “severance payment”, the amount depending on how long he held the position.
The logic of this, in the Government’s eyes, was that it softened the blow for the person whose income had suddenly been cut short, and allowed him to keep living in the style to which he had become accustomed for a couple of more years.
I use the word “logic” in its loosest sense, because only in the world of greedy, self-serving TDs could such a waste of taxpayers’ money be defended.
When it came into power, the current Government triumphantly announced that it was cutting down on TDs’ perks.
Legislation to abolish such severance payments was published last October, debated by the Dail in January, and passed by the Oireachtas this year.
So you’d have thought that Alan Shatter (below), who resigned as Minister for Justice two weeks ago, wouldn’t be entitled to the customary pay-off. Well, you’d be wrong.
Almost incredibly, the minister responsible for signing the legislation into law, Brendan Howlin, hadn’t yet done so when Shatter resigned, which means that the former Minister for Justice is entitled to a severance payment of €70,000.
And by a remarkable coincidence, Brendan Howlin has since signed the necessary papers, which rather seems to suggest that someone forgetting to put the document under Brendan Howlin’s nose could end up costing the taxpayer €70,000...
Enda Kenny, inevitably, has a solution. Rather than admitting to the cock-up, he is trying to put moral pressure on Alan Shatter to waive it, claiming that this is accepted “policy” among retiring ministers.
Of course, if the current Government hadn’t been so inept, it’s a decision Shatter wouldn’t have to make.