Former President Mary McAleese is laughing all the way to the bank with an annual pension worth more than $220,000 a year – and based on her salary before two pay cuts.

The Irish Independent reports that McAleese’s lucrative payment is based on her old salary before she took voluntary pay-cuts along with members of the Irish parliament after the recession took hold.

The lawyer received her first payment this week after the government signed off on the huge pension.

The paper reports that the difference between calculating her pension on her original salary and not on her final wage is worth an extra $34,000 a year to McAleese.

Although she was not entitled to a severance payment after 14 years in office, McAleese’s pension is one of the biggest paid for by the state coffers.


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Her new pension is worth half the president’s original salary of $440,000.

After the two voluntary pay-cuts, McAleese’s final salary as President was $340,00 a year.

The Department of Public Expenditure confirmed to the paper that the pension was set under the terms of the Presidential Estimates Amendment Act 1973.

“The pension payable is half the salary rate, which is €162,754,” a spokesperson said.

New President Michael D Higgins has already accepted a voluntary pay-cut on the $440,000 deal he is entitled to and will instead work for the $340,000 paid to McAleese before she left office.

Currently on holiday, McAleese intends to study law on her return. She told a recent documentary: “I am a civil lawyer by training. I am going back after this to studying law again.

“I will go to Rome but I won’t be working over there. I will be doing some studies between a couple of universities. That’s the plan.”