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Martin accused of u-turn over ministerial pensions

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has been accused of being shamed into a U-turn after saying none of his party's former cabinet members will hold on to ministerial pensions if they are re-elected.

After stating that severance pay was an entitlement, the former foreign affairs minister said his TDs would have to sacrifice the €90,000 payout.

"The current arrangements for severance payments were in place for previous governments, including when the current leaders of Fine Gael and Labour ceased to be ministers," Mr Martin said.

"However, I believe there is a basic principle that severance should only be paid to those who lose their jobs. For this reason, and following discussions, I have informed colleagues that those who are elected to the 31st Dail will be required to waive their ministerial severance payments."

Yesterday Mary Hanafin, Fianna Fail deputy leader, indicated she was holding on to the payout, as there were no rules otherwise.

Fine Gael last week said it would abolish severance pay for ministers leaving office.

The party's deputy finance spokesman Brian Hayes claimed Mr Martin had been shamed into giving up the severance money and called on all outgoing ministers to give up the payments.

"The people receiving the severance payments represent a rogue's gallery of those who have brought financial ruin upon our country. They should simply give it up," Mr Hayes said.

"Micheal Martin also said that 'he had not thought about' the issue of his and his Fianna Fail colleagues' massive severance payments. This goes to show just how profoundly out of touch Fianna Fail is and exposes the complete shame of his political reform agenda."

Mr Martin said politicians' pay was attracting significant public anger.

"One of my first priorities as a new political leader is reform of the Irish political system," he said.

"I have made it clear since my recent election that this crisis is too serious for politics as usual and that if we are serious about avoiding a repeat of the mistakes of the past, we must fundamentally reform the way we carry out political business.

"It is clear that the issue of politicians' pay is one that attracts significant anger from the public and is an issue that continues to distract attention and debate away from what I believe to be the deeper question of real reform."