Higgins lets staff go in wake of Daly departure
SOCIALIST Party TD Joe Higgins is to make two of his staff redundant following the controversial departure of his former colleague Clare Daly.
Mr Higgins was legally entitled to get a full party leader's allowance of €143,000 until the next general election -- even though he is the Socialist Party's only TD after the resignation of Ms Daly.
But he decided to give half the payment back to the State in the wake of Ms Daly's departure, which has meant there is less funding available to employ Socialist Party staff.
Mr Higgins told the Irish Independent that two of his staff would be let go in December, leaving him with three full and part-time staff paid out of the allowance. But he said he was not blaming Ms Daly for what had happened.
"I don't want to focus on that whatsoever. We have long put that behind us and we have moved on," he said.
Ms Daly quit the Socialist Party during the summer after more than 15 years of campaigning alongside Mr Higgins -- which saw both serving time in jail for opposing bin charges. As a newly Independent TD, she had asked Mr Higgins to give her €41,000 from his allowance to match the "leader's allowance" payment given to other Independent TDs.
But Mr Higgins said he was not legally entitled to do this -- because the party leader's allowance could only be used by the Socialist Party and not by non-members.
"There's no discretion whatsoever in that regard. This is strictly governed by legislation," he said.
The Department of Public Expenditure said that the Socialist Party remains entitled to the full party leader's allowance after the departure of Ms Daly -- but can give up some or all of the payment.
It also confirmed that the payment could not be passed onto Ms Daly.
Ms Daly could not be contacted for comment.