‘I’M certainly not living the lavish life of a millionaire – my feet are firmly on the ground,’ insists Cork South West Independent TD Michael Collins, after a recently published ‘Political Rich List’ estimated his worth at €1,040,622.
That figure was broken down as pension: €153,586; shares: €39,000 and property: €848,036.
Collins was the only Cork South West TD on the list with an estimated worth over €1m.
However, Deputy Collins dismissed the figures published in last week’s Sunday Independent as ‘sensationalist’ and said his biggest day-to-day concern is keeping an eye on his outgoings, just like most people.
His property portfolio comprises his house in Lowertown, Schull, as well as a 58- acre farm he inherited from an aunt in 2002, in the same area.
However, he described the newspaper’s valuations as ‘crazy’ and said his properties wouldn’t be worth half the amount listed.
‘I have a mortgage on my principal residence and also spent €80,000 doing up the house on the farm I inherited, which had fallen into disrepair. I rent that house. The richlist valued the land at €10,000 an acre, but it’s not worth €5,000 an acre – it’s mainly scrubland.
‘The figures didn’t take into account that I’ve a 10-year mortgage, borrowings and a lot of expenses, including having to employ someone to run my farm which isn’t currently making a profit. I also have three children – Michael (18), Marie (20) and Eileen (21), who are still financially dependent on me.’
He also stressed that the farm (for which he received a €10,270 CAP payment in 2016) and property would never be sold, but are only his to pass on to the next generation.
Regarding the €39,000 worth of shares, he clarified that was what he bought the Bank of Ireland shares for, around eight years ago.
‘They’re only worth around €6,000 now. I’m sitting on them in the hope they’ll increase and I can pass them on to my children.’
Deputy Collins pointed out that half his salary is taxed and that some of the remainder, along with his expenses, is used to run his Dáil operation.
‘I have to put €300 of diesel in my car every week and basically work around the clock. Initially, there was a bit of banter following this list being published, but on a point of principle, I’m now going to get my property valued to show what it’s really worth.’
Meanwhile, Minister of State Jim Daly was found to be worth €920,063 (pension: €367,063; property: €553,000) and FF deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, €315,164 (pension: €122,164; property: €193,000.)
Minister Daly joked that he ‘would love to be a millionaire’.
‘On paper this looks great, but it doesn’t take into account what borrowings people have,’ he said, outlining he has two properties in Clonakilty – his family home and a rental property with mortages on both.
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony, who has a mortgage on her Bandon home, said she was surprised at some of the assets of the country’s politicians.
‘But I’m not in the habit of throwing stones – more power to them,’ she said.
For the purpose of the Rich List, pensions were calculated on ‘net present values.’