Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has dismissed a £75m pension pot share-out among Northern Ireland’s top civil servants as “nothing new”.
A total of 118 senior people working in the province’s 11 departments and the Northern Ireland Office will share in the retirement fund — with 17 of them already pension millionaires.
Figures released to SDLP deputy leader Patsy McGlone revealed the largest departmental amount — just over £9m — involves senior officials in the NIO.
However, the First Ministers’ Office as well as the two largest departments, Health and Education, each have totals of around £8m.
The Mid Ulster MLA said research by his party also disclosed many of those involved would also enjoy six-figure ‘golden handshakes’ when they retired. “I'm sure it's very reassuring for 118 already well paid civil servants to know they have a pension pot of £75m. However, it's cold comfort for the average pensioner who, in most cases, gets a retirement pension amounting to £97.65 a week,” Mr McGlone, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said.
But DUP minister Wilson hit back: “There is nothing new in this. Pensions benefits for most senior officials in all Government departments have been made publicly available for many years.
“Pension arrangements for all Northern Ireland's civil servants are made strictly in accordance with the statutory Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme.”