Former Irish leader Brian Cowen loses out on phone bill and secretarial payouts

Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen

Costly perks which were until recently enjoyed by former Irish prime ministers have come to an end. Until now, expenses paid by the Irish State provided former leaders with secretarial assistants, computer equipment, telephone charges and even airport VIP facilities.

Bertie Ahern, the high flying former Irish leader, is said to have been particularly hit - Ahern has claimed up to $475,338 for secretarial services alone since 2008.

The Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) stopped paying for the services in respect of former leaders at the weekend.

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The cutbacks were announced by the current Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny last month. Previously, former leaders were entitled to two secretarial assistants in the five years after stepping down, and then one thereafter.

According to a report in the Irish Times this week, Ahern incurred secretarial costs of $97,140 in 2008, $147,652 in 2009, $138,586 in 2010, and $91,959 last year. His phone bills peaked at $4,533 in 2009, and amounted to $2,849 between January and August last year.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is among those who have said the expenses paid to his former cabinet colleague under the scheme are too high and should be reduced.

The entitlement of former Irish leaders to a State car, other than on State occasions, was withdrawn last June. Their pensions were cut by 20 per cent last month.
 

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