Saturday 16 December 2017

Martin plan backfires as he clings to €90,000 deal

Blow to FF leader on day of reform pledges

Fionnan Sheahan, Aine Kerr and Fiach Kelly

NEW Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's attempt to promote his new political reform package was overshadowed last night by his refusal to give up his €90,000 pay-off as a former minister.

He and the six remaining cabinet ministers will be paid almost €90,000 in severance payments over the next two years, even though they plan to continue as TDs.

They will get these payments to 'compensate' them for loss of ministerial salaries.

Mr Martin confirmed he will not give up these pay-ments, which Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has promised to abolish for future ministers.

The former Foreign Affairs Minister was sucker-punched by Fine Gael yesterday on the sensitive issue of cutting pay and conditions for ministers and was accused of "failing his first personal leadership test".

Additionally, just as he unveiled his plan for "fundamental, radical reform in government and politics", he also had to defend his past appointment of Celia Larkin to a state board.

After this election, former ministers will not pick up pensions if they continue as TDs.

But Mr Martin and the six remaining cabinet ministers will pick up payments of €88,745 over the next two years in goodbye money from their time in office.

"The existing severance payments stand and that's the way it will be," Mr Martin told the Irish Independent. On being asked a third time if he would take his severance payment, he replied: "Yes."

Mr Kenny, meanwhile, said his party's "radical" plan would "abolish severance pay for ministers leaving office". It would also cut the Taoiseach's and ministers' pay, reduce ministerial pensions, overhaul the expenses regime and ban corporate donations.

"Micheal Martin has spoken about reform from the moment he took over the Fianna Fail leadership and he has failed his first personal test on the matter," a Fine Gael spokesman said last night.

Mr Martin is already getting severance pay since he resigned last month.

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and ministers Brian Lenihan, Mary Hanafin, Eamon O Cuiv, Brendan Smith and Pat Carey will also receive the payments once the new government is appointed after the election -- if they hold their seats.


If they fail to be elected, they will be automatically entitled to a ministerial and TD pension, which is often worth far more.

Former ministers receive severance payments for two years to compensate them for the loss of their ministerial salary. The payment is made on top of their TD salary of around €98,000.

Ministers who step down receive 75pc of the ministerial part of their salary for six months, 50pc for the next 12 months and 25pc for the next six months -- the equivalent of one year's ministerial salary.

Mr Martin said the severance payments being availed of by ministers are no different to the arrangements Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and Mr Kenny received "for a long, long time".

"In particular, Enda would have drawn a ministerial pension while serving as a TD for 13 years," he said.

However, Mr Martin's attempts to portray his party's proposals for political reform were yesterday contrasted with his own party's record in office.

His appointment of then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's former partner Celia Larkin to the board of the National Consumer Agency in 2005 prompted accusations of political cronyism from the opposition.

Irish Independent

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