Fianna Fáil hits back at Kenny over payoff row

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of being a "latter day gombeen" after criticising former Fianna Fáil ministers for cashing in severance payments from their time in office.

Fianna Fáil hits back at Kenny over payoff row

A row broke out between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil yesterday over which TDs had previously drawn down severance payments.

It came as Alan Shatter, who recently resigned as justice minister, announced he would give up his right to €70,000 in severance pay and instead donate funds to a children’s charity.

Mr Kenny praised his former Cabinet colleague’s decision to give the money to the Jack and Jill Foundation, saying nobody could complain about the children who would benefit.

But Mr Kenny during the day also raised questions about severance payments for Fianna Fáil TDs who had been ministers during the last Government.

He said John McGuinness received €61,318, Dara Calleary €53,708, Micheal Kitt €37,474, Billy Kelleher €20,172, and Willie O’Dea received €8,064. He also said that Mary Hanafin, running in today’s local elections in Dublin, was in receipt of €88,000.

Mr Kenny questioned why they had not declined to draw down payments, after Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin asked TDs to do so before the last general election.

However, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said this was a “pathetic” response. These were ministers who had left office well before the election and before the party’s policy changed, he said.

The TD said that Mr Kenny should own up that he and other members of the current Cabinet cashed in their severance payments in 1997, when last in Government.

“And you can go down along the lines of the big heavy hitters of the current Cabinet who were in the former Rainbow Cabinet that finished in 1997. They all cashed out.

“And ironically during their term in Opposition in the previous 14 years of the Fianna Fáil administration, they all drew ministerial pensions.

“Enda Kenny is a complete hypocrite here. Enda Kenny is more compromised than any other politician currently on the political stage.”

He said Mr Kenny and some of his colleagues drew their ministerial salaries, held down teaching posts, and drew down their own severance payments.

“Enda Kenny needs to start giving the people of Ireland a little bit of a break from the kind of paddywhackery that he goes on with around the country.

“This man is supposed to be Taoiseach and he goes around the place like a latter-day gombeen. People see him acting the gombeen around the place,” he told Newstalk’s Lunchtime Show.

Mr Collins said Mr Kenny needed to start “acting like a statesman” and grow up.

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