Maire Geoghegan-Quinn: set to receive European Commission salary of €238,000 on top of generous ex-TD and ministerial pension entitlements

Ireland's newly installed European Commissioner, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, has refused to consider giving up her €100,000 plus state pension as a former minister and TD.

This is despite the fact that her latest government-appointed role carries an annual salary of more than €238,000 on top of her current pension payments.

In a terse response to a series of queries from the Sunday Tribune, Geoghegan-Quinn declined to say if she would be willing to give up her Irish pension either permanently or until she fully retires, in light of the current downturn and the strain on exchequer finances.

Geoghegan-Quinn, who previously received a salary of around €180,000 a year in another government-nominated role as a member of the European Court of Auditors, also refused to say if she would be willing to consider giving up a portion of her entitlements.

"Any pension entitlements arising from previous jobs in Ireland are paid by the Irish government and questions should be addressed there," her spokesman said. "Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn's salary as a European commissioner is paid from the European Union's budget and published for all to see."

He added in email correspondence that "this is our response and there will be no further comment".

Geoghegan-Quinn, whose appointment as EU Commissioner for research and innovation was formally approved by the EU parliament last week, was paid an ex-TD's pension of €44,381 in 2008.

She received a ministerial pension worth an additional €62,945, bringing a combined total of more than €107,000, the figures show.

The data are based on Department of Finance and Houses of the Oireachtas Commission figures for TD and ministerial pension payments in 2008, which are paid separately to former politicians. They are provided irrespective of any other employment which the individuals in question might have entered into.

Last November, Geoghegan-Quinn refused to answer queries from the Sunday Tribune on the issue until she was formally ratified as EU Commissioner.

At the time, her spokesman noted that she was "only a nominated commissioner not a ratified commissioner.

"If she is successful at this EU parliament hearing, she will deal with these queries at that time," he added.

Earlier this year, the Sunday Tribune revealed that Geoghegan-Quinn's predecessor as commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, will take home in excess of €245,000 annually in the first three years of his retirement.

This is because the former finance minister already has a combined Dáil and ministerial pension of more than €125,000, which will now be bolstered by a range of allowances from his time at the EC.

This includes a €378,288 'golden handshake' from his former job, according to figures provided by the Open Europe lobby group.

On turning 65, in five years' time, McCreevy will also be entitled to a European pension for life of €51,068 a year, according to the figures. By that stage, his annual income will be close to €175,000.