Noonan declines to name charities benefiting from his ministerial pension

LIMERICK TD Michael Noonan has said he does not want to be accused of making political capital out of donating his ministerial pension by naming the two beneficiaries.

LIMERICK TD Michael Noonan has said he does not want to be accused of making political capital out of donating his ministerial pension by naming the two beneficiaries.

The Fine Gael finance spokesperson earned €30,000 in a ministerial pension this year which he has volunteered to gift to two charities.

"People would accuse me of trying to get electoral advantage by announcing the charities," he told the Limerick Leader, "and I want to position it that I'm neither benefiting monetarily or politically from what I'm doing, so that's why I'm not announcing the charities."

He did confirm, however, that both charities have "a strong Limerick presence".

"One is national with a strong Limerick presence, the other is local with sister organisations all around the country," he said.

The Limerick TD, who is in line to become the next Minister for Finance if Fine Gael is successful during the impending general election, said people working with the charities are not aware that he is a benefactor apart from a trustee with each organisation with whom he made the arrangements.

Deputy Noonan is entitled to a ministerial pension after holding posts as Minister for Justice from 1982 to 1986, Minister for Industry Commerce and Trade and Minister for Energy from 1986 to 1987, and Minister for Health between 1994 and 1997.

He is one of five TDs - four from Fine Gael and one from Fianna Fail - who continued to draw down a ministerial pension on top of their TD salary in 2010.

Controversy over such payments arose in April after it emerged Maire Geoghegan Quinn was earning a €108,000 pension on top of her €243,000 salary as Ireland's EU commissioner.

The public pressure that followed led to 18 TDs volunteering to "gift" their ministerial pensions to the State.

At the time, the Fine Gael party said all of its TDs would forego the pension while still in office and attempted to pass laws in the Dil forcing TDs across all parties to do the same.

Deputy Noonan is entitled to the €30,000 pension on top of his TD's salary, which amounts to more than €90,000.

When it was revealed that he continued to draw down the ministerial pension, Deputy Noonan issued the following statement: "I wish to state that all amounts payable to me as ministerial pension, are paid directly into a dedicated bank account.

"The full amount of the pension is paid out by way of standing order, each month, to two charities. This arrangement has been in place since Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny requested that former Fine Gael ministers, in receipt of ministerial pension, would either assign the pension to the Exchequer or donate it to charity.

"The bank account records will verify the veracity of this statement," he said.