TAOISEACH Enda Kenny yesterday refused to ask the country's former top civil servant to give back part of his staggering €600,000 retirement package.
Mr Kenny even failed to criticise the payoff to former Department of the Taoiseach secretary general Dermot McCarthy, which a Fine Gael minister said was "unfair".
Mr Kenny held back from asking Mr McCarthy to gift some of the money back to the State as a gesture of solidarity.
"I can't speak for the person involved. All I can say is that we're going to make changes about this that will reflect our new Government's attitude towards this kind of situation," he said.
Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes said the package was "unfair".
Mr McCarthy's house belies the lavish retirement package. There is nothing extravagant about the modest semi-detached house in a suburban housing estate in Castleknock.
The two-storey home he shares with his wife Rosemary still bears the original single glazed windows, covered by a plain, if not frugal, net curtain. There are no exotic plants in the drive, only two evergreen trees.
Mr Kenny said the Government did intend to reform pension packages -- but not in time to affect Mr McCarthy.
"Not that deal but we will make changes for the future. We've already made some changes, both in regard for higher paid salaries and ministerial salaries, pensions, etc. And there will be changes in the future, we've already set that out in the programme for government," he said.
"We're in a situation where I'm caught with that particular deal but I've made it clear there will be changes in this area for the future," he added.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he felt severance payments of this sort were "too high".
He said public servants were entitled to voluntarily give back part of their payments, but he also stopped short of asking Mr McCarthy to do so.
"People are entitled to do what they do on a voluntary basis," he said.
Mr McCarthy walked away with a lump sum payment of €428,011 and a special severance payment of €142,670 on top of his annual pension of €142,670.
The pension is being calculated from his salary before pay cuts were applied over recent years, rather than his final salary when he retired during the summer.
Mr McCarthy was closely associated with the social partnership process and the benchmarking wage hikes in the public service.
He served as secretary general to the government for 11 years and worked with three Taoisigh, Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and, briefly, with Enda Kenny.