FF TDs pocket cabinet pay-offs

SENIOR Fianna Fáil TDs have defied an order by party leader Micheál Martin not to accept ministerial severance payments on top of their TD salaries.

Limerick City TD Willie O’Dea has taken €8,500 in “step-down” payments this year, on top of his Dáil salary of €92,000.

He claimed €54,000 in golden handshake payments in 2010 after being forced to resign as minister for defence in February 2010.

Under Oireachtas rules, he was entitled to 75% of his ministerial salary for six months after stepping down — up to August 2010.

He was entitled to half the salary up until this month and will be allowed to claim 25% of the salary between now and Christmas.

Mr O’Dea, FF spokesman on enterprise and jobs, last night defended his decision to continue claiming the money, saying: “I spend money my own way and I make donations to charity.”

A pre-election statement by Mr Martin, issued on February 11, said: “There is a basic principle that severance should only be paid to those who lose their jobs… I have informed colleagues that those who are elected to the 31st Dáil will be required to waive their ministerial severance payments.”

Two other former junior ministers who are now FF frontbench spokespeople claim step-down payments.

Mayo TD Dara Calleary, who Mr Martin recently appointed to a presidential election strategy committee, has been awarded €8,802 in step-down payments this year, on top of his €92,000 salary. Cork North Central TD and spokesman on health, Billy Kelleher, has received the same sum. Neither man was available for comment last night.

More than €175,000 in step-down payments has been made to members of the former Fianna Fáil-Green coalition this year. This is before TD golden handshakes and pensions are taken into account.

Mr Martin is entitled to €25,000 in severance payments this year, but applied for payments to stop in March. Deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív has gifted his €16,700 severance payment back to the state.

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