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Green leaders won't say if they'll give up pay-offs

FORMER Green Party ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan became the latest to refuse yesterday to say if they would give up their €90,000 pay-offs as former Cabinet members.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan also joined new Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin in declining to sacrifice the lucrative severance payments, which Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has vowed to abolish.

Attempting to side-step the issue, Mr Gormley would only say he had not discussed the issue of severance pay-off for losing office with either his family or his party.

"These are things we aren't thinking about at the moment. We're just thinking about the election, but we will see obviously after the election," he said.

However, Mr Gormley's party colleague, former Junior Minister Trevor Sargent, revealed he had given his €46,000 severance payment to the St Vincent de Paul and called for such payments to be "finished with".

Mr Gormley was speaking at the launch of the Green Party's green jobs manifesto in the Gibson Hotel in Dublin's docklands yesterday -- which promised 100,000 jobs over the next nine years.


Mr Ryan, who stepped down as Communications Minister last month, claimed he had been so busy he wasn't aware how much he would get in severance payments over the next two years.

"I would have to find out and look at it. Those are details when you're working flat out in government and now on an election, it wasn't the first thing on our mind," he said.

The issue of ministerial severance payments was catapulted onto the election agenda earlier this week when Micheal Martin refused to give up his as he launched his party's blueprint for political reform.

Mr Lenihan yesterday attempted to put the focus back on the opposition by saying they had benefited from the severance payments in the past.

"These arrangements were put in place in 1992, they have been availed of by former Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail ministers," he said.

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Mr Lenihan was asked how he could justify taking the severance payment, given that he had introduced a universal social charge on those with much lower incomes.

"The severance payments are fully subject to the universal social charge and at higher rates than applies on the low paid. So they are fully taxed and taxed at a margin in excess of 50pc," he said.