TWO secretaries suing their former Fianna Fáil MEP bosses for not organising their pensions discovered later that the pensions were paid to other people, a court heard yesterday.
Margaret Hackett and Kathleen Egan, both in their 60s, may now learn who those mystery recipients were. The women are suing Irish ex-Fianna Fáil MEPs James Fitzsimons and Liam Hyland.
The women are each now living off of State pensions, which work out at about €200 a week. But if they got the European Parliament Assistance Allowance pensions they’re entitled to, they’d be getting up to €12,000 a month.
Margaret Hackett, 61, f rom Borris-in- Ossory, Co. Laois, and Kathleen Egan, 66, from Caucestown, Athboy, Co. Meath, worked for Mr Fitzsimons and Mr Hyland respectively for about 20 years.
When both politicians decided not to seek re-election in 2004, the women were made redundant and were devastated to learn no provision was made for their pensions. They each took a case to the Rights Commissioner and made a settlement.
But after the settlement, they were shocked to learn they had been entitled to a pension worth up to €12,000 a month.
They didn’t get it because the two MEPs didn’t apply to the European Parliament for them. The women were further shocked to find out the MEPs applied for the pensions to be paid to two other people, whose identities are not known.
However, yesterday Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said he will reveal the names of the two people in a few weeks. In their proceedings, Miss Egan and Miss Hackett are claiming damages on several grounds, including alleged breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation and misfeasance in public office.
The MEPs are seeking to have the case dismissed, on the grounds the women settled their case following the hearing by the Rights Commissioner in July 2004.
But, in the words of Judge Kearns, the women are alleging this settlement was ‘tainted by illegality’.
Counsel for the women, Eileen Barrington, SC, told the High Court the cases are similar. Miss Barrington said Miss Egan’s settlement included a statutory redundancy, an extended notice period and a €3,000 contribution to her PRSI fund.
She said Miss Egan now gets a State pension of €200 a week. Miss Barrington told the court: ‘The defendants said [prior to the settlement] there was no pension, but they now say they meant no
pension had been provided.
‘It now transpires there was of course a mechanism whereby the defendants could have made contributions to a pension for these ladies. There was a European Parliamentary Assistance Allowance... the MEPs could have applied to that fund for their secretarial assistants and
they never did. But what they did do is they made an application for somebody else. We plead unequivocally this was a fraudulent application.
‘The identities of the persons are relevant as it allows the plaintiffs to conclusively prove fraud.’
She said the European Parliament confirmed each MEP applied for a secretarial allowance for someone else. The court heard the European Parliament would only reveal the identity of two alleged benefactors if the Irish High Court requested the details, which it has now done. Judge Kearns said he will pick up the case again in four weeks.
Link Source : http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx?...
Tags: James Fitzsimons, Liam Hyland, pension, fraud, irish politicians, fianna fail, illegal, crime, margaret hackett, kathleen egan, member of european parliament, mep,
Location: Ireland (load item map)
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