Commissioner: keeping pension

European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn owns four houses in Ireland, Luxembourg, the US and Spain, according to her sig-ned declaration of interests lodged with the EU Commission and seen by the Sunday Tribune.

Geoghegan-Quinn, who has refused to consider giving up her €100,000-plus state pension as a former minister and TD, is paid a further €238,000 a year in her government-appointed role with the EU.

Her declaration of interests, dated 9 December 2009, indicates she has used her salary and pension entitlements to build up significant property interests.

Under the heading "assets", she states that in terms of real estate, she has a "house in Ireland, house in Luxembourg, house in USA" and an "apartment in Spain". The commissioner owns no shares or company stocks, the declaration also reveals.

Geoghegan-Quinn attracted criticism from Fine Gael for pulling out of an RTÉ radio interview on Friday after being asked about her pension entitlements by a reporter.

Asked at an event in Dublin if she would consider "parking" her Dáil and ministerial pensions while she was drawing her European salary, Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Well, that's a question that I've refused to comment on up to now and I will continue to refuse to comment on it."

Shortly afterwards, RTÉ News at One presenter Seán O'Rourke told listeners her spokesman had informed the programme she was no longer available for a studio interview she had agreed to do. He added that no explanation had been offered.

One of Geoghegan Quinn's predecessors as EU Commissioner, Padraig Flynn, caused widespread public outrage when he spoke of the "difficulty" of running three houses on a salary of £130,000 (€165,000) during a Late Late Show interview in 1999.