Aylward claims his €12,000 will 'fill black hole'
A FIANNA Fail MEP forced to surrender his ministerial pension sarcastically suggested yesterday the €12,000 "will fill the black hole".
Mr Aylward, who waited until two days ago to signal he was finally giving up his pension -- over a year after some of his counterparts -- said he accepted he should give up the payment.
Yet he is still taking a TD's pension and is complaining about a "witchhunt".
A statement was issued on his behalf two days ago saying he was finally giving up his ministerial pension of €12,161.
But the former Carlow-Kilkenny TD is retaining his Dail pension of €53,491.
The Leinster MEP, who was unavailable for comment all week, has told his local newspaper he was "disgusted" with his treatment by the media.
"To be honest, I was a bit disgusted. It was like a witch-hunt. My pension was €12,261. I really do hope it will fill the black hole," he told the 'Kilkenny Advertiser'.
"Of course I accept that I should give up my pension while working in Europe but I really dislike the way in which the campaign was led by the media. Is this the way the country is going now?" he said.
The black hole to which Mr Aylward refers is presumably the €20bn the Government is going to borrow this year and the rising national debt. Taxpayers are going to have to pay €5bn this year to service the national debt -- which is going to rise to €112bn next year.
At the Dail Public Accounts committee last week, the huge rise in the national debt was described as "extraordinary" by TDs.
It was just €35.9bn in 2006, but has since increased to €37.6bn in 2007, €50bn in 2008, €94bn this year and €112bn next year.
Mr Aylward was once again unavailable for comment yesterday to clarify his remarks.
Mr Aylward, who was unavailable for comment this week because he was "in a committee", said he made his decision some days ago. "I will always speak to the media -- but harassing my family and my home life isn't fair," he said.
Mr Aylward previously took a double salary for three years while he served as a TD and MEP up to the last General Election.
Although he waited a year to make the move, Mr Aylward claimed he was happy to give up the pension if it would make a difference to the country.
"If this is the best thing to do in the interest of the country -- well, I always put my country first," he said.
Mr Aylward said he chose to take a €91,000 MEP's salary, paid for from EU funds, rather than the €106,000 from the Irish Exchequer.
But Mr Aylward also picked up two salaries for three years after getting elected to the European Parliament in mid-2004. He didn't resign as a TD until the General Election in mid-2007. Over that three-year period, he had one of the worst voting records in the Dail.
Responding to questions on whether the two remaining Fianna Fail politicians, Noel Treacy and Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher, should forego their ministerial pensions while in office, Taoiseach Brian Cowen reiterated: "These are matters for individuals concerned to consider."