Saturday 27 May 2017

FF TDs ignored leader's call to give up cash payout

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

MICHEAL Martin's leadership of Fianna Fail is again under scrutiny after it emerged several former ministers ignored his call to give up severance payments.

The party last night claimed that Mr Martin had not asked all returning Fianna Fail TDs to give up the cash -- despite him stating before the election that colleagues would be "required to waive their ministerial severance payments" if re-elected.

Willie O'Dea was among those who took the "golden parachute" money despite being re-elected to the new Dail in February.

Mr O'Dea said last night that he had given a slice of his €62,000 ministerial severance payment to charity -- but he would not say which one.

During the general election campaign, Mr Martin announced he was giving up his ministerial severance payment and stated publicly that "severance should only be paid to those who lose their jobs".

He added: "I have informed colleagues that those who are elected to the 31st Dail will be required to waive their ministerial severance payments."

But last night Fianna Fail claimed that Mr Martin was only talking about his cabinet colleagues.

Therefore Mr O'Dea, who had previously been forced to resign from his Defence portfolio, and several others were considered exempt.

Mr O'Dea confirmed that he had taken his severance payment, which he was given after resigning his position last year in the wake of a libel case controversy.

"I've made substantial contributions to charity," he said.

According to figures from the Department of Finance, he received severance payments of €54,002 last year and €8,515 up to July 26 this year -- bringing his total so far to €62, 517.

Sinn Fein Meath East TD Peadar Toibin, who obtained the figures from the Department of Finance, pointed out that Mr O'Dea was currently employed as a TD.

According to figures from the Department of Finance, the party's health spokesman Billy Kelleher and justice spokesman Dara Calleary have received €8,800 each after losing their junior ministerial positions.

Mr Kelleher could not be contacted for comment. Mr Calleary said he had got the agreement of Mr Martin to use the severance payment to hire a part-time legal researcher to help him with his work as justice spokesman.

"I'm going to review it next year," he said.

Mr Martin donated his entire severance payment of €25,655 to the Finance Minister.

He has also given up the right to claim any further severance payments which could have amounted to up to €98,000 over two years.

And Fianna Fail deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv gifted his ministerial severance payment of €16,739 to the Finance Minister.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith also gave up his entitlement to a severance payment "at his own request".

The Irish Independent last night asked Fianna Fail how Mr O'Dea, Mr Calleary and Mr Kelleher had been allowed to claim severance payments in the wake of Mr Martin's instruction on February 11 last.

A Fianna Fail spokeswoman said that when Mr Martin had referred to "colleagues", he meant the outgoing members of the cabinet at that time.

Mr Martin's leadership has already been questioned this month following his controversial solo run asking Gay Byrne to consider becoming a presidential candidate.

Irish Independent

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