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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Kenny attacks FF's 'hypocrisy' in bitter golden handshake row

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 23/05/2014 | 02:30

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FF leader Micheal Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
FF leader Micheal Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Willie O'Dea
Willie O'Dea

FIANNA Fail has reacted furiously after Taoiseach Enda Kenny accused the party of hypocrisy over the issue of golden handshakes enjoyed by former ministers.

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Mr Kenny launched a surprise pre-election attack on Micheal Martin's party by highlighting the severance payments received by six ex-office holders.

However, a frontbench Fianna Fail TD responded by calling the Taoiseach a "latter day gombeen".

The row came after Mr Kenny told a press conference on jobs that combined sums of over €259,000 were paid out to both serving and former Fianna Fail TDs despite a pledge by Micheal Martin in 2011 that the severance payments would be waived.

While Mr Martin himself relinquished his €61,318 severance payment, several other members of his party declined to follow suit.

Mr Kenny highlighted the payments after Mr Martin called on former justice minister Alan Shatter to forego his €70,000 severance payment, which he has subsequently donated to the Jack and Jill foundation.

The Taoiseach pointed out that Mr Martin claimed on the eve of the 2011 General Election that any former minister re-elected to the Dail would not accept severance payments. However, several Fianna Fail politicians clung onto the payments.

Mr Kenny yesterday heightened tensions with Fianna Fail by stating the severance packages received by six well known Fianna Fail figures.

Issue

"And I note that John McGuinness, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, received €61,318. I note that Dara Calleary received €53,708; Micheal Kitt received €37,474; Billy Kelleher received €20,172; Willie O'Dea received €8,064," he said.

"This was a firm commitment given by Fianna Fail that people who were ministers who were re-elected to the Dail would not accept severance payments yet all these people have done so."

"I also note that former minister Hanafin, who is now contesting in some particular circumstances the local elections, was in receipt of €88,000 severance payment. So there seems to be an issue here."

Fianna Fail accused the Taoiseach of trying to distract voters and said that Mr Kenny himself "took a generous severance payment when he last left government".

Mr Kenny received a severance payment of £25,047 in 1998.

Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Niall Collins accused Mr Kenny of being a "complete hypocrite" and likened him to a "latter day gombeen".

Limerick TD Willie O'Dea accused Mr Kenny of being "disingenuous", adding: "It is the last sting of a dying wasp".

"Enda Kenny knows his party is going to lose substantial support in these elections and that is why I believe he has done this," Mr O'Dea said.

Mayo TD Dara Calleary said: "I discussed this issue with Micheal after the elections. I don't receive a ministerial pension. I used this money for research and other purposes."

Galway East TD Micheal Kitt, who is the leas Ceann Comhairle, said that his severance payment is on the public record.

Ms Hanafin, who is running in the Blackrock ward in the local elections, said that she will be waiving all council expenses if she is elected.

Mr McGuinness and Mr Kelleher did not respond to requests for comment.

Irish Independent

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