Dáil row erupts over Taoiseach’s €378,000 retirement lump sum
Paschal Donohoe staunchly defends Kenny legacy against scathing SF, Solidarity attacks
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the RDS for a British Irish Chamber of Commerce conference on Thursday morning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will leave office with a lump sum payment of €378,000 and an annual pension of €126,000 a year, Solidarity TD Mick Barry claimed in the Dáil.
He hit out at the legacy of the Taoiseach as he pointed to the “two-tier” public pay and pension talks coming up and the ethos of the “two young princes waiting in the wings” contending for the leadership of Fine Gael.
There were heated exchanges in the Dáil as Sinn Féin and Solidarity launched strongly worded attacks against Mr Kenny and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald called for the new Fine Gael leader to call a general election if they were so “confident” of their policies.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe staunchly defended Mr Kenny’s term in office and his legacy and rounded on the opposition.
Mr Barry claimed the Taoiseach was bequeathing “shocking inequality” to a very divided society.
But Mr Donohoe for refused to be drawn on the Taoiseach’s payment and defended the progress made on public sector pay.
He also insisted that “there are no princes in our party. There are no princesses in our party”.
Mr Donohoe said Solidarity had no monopoly on compassion nor understanding of the challenges faced by people in society.
He said the Solidarity party was named after a European movement that looked to defeat communism but “you are looking to enforce some form of communism on people who deserve better”.
The Minister said Solidarity offered an approach of “antagonism” and “perpetual strife”.
And he said Ms McDonald’s comments were “just typical of Sinn Féin’s approach” of interested in continual strife as opposed to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the country.
Ms McDonald wished Mr Kenny and his family well before she launched a scathing attack on his legacy. She said he came to Government in time of crisis and left it in a time of crisis.
Ms McDonald said there was a paralysis in the body politic, “paralysed by design”, with the confidence and supply arrangement with Fianna Fáil and a “do nothing government”
She claimed there was a “truly appalling vista” in a new leader “for those who have suffered most” after six years of Fine Gael in government.
She said they had the choice of Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar the “demoniser of the unemployed and the poor or the Minister for chronic homelessness and hotel rooms Simon Coveney”.
Whoever wins, the prospective new taoiseach will not be an advocate for progressive new politics, she claimed.
She said the winner would not have contested a general election as a leader and if they were so confident of their policies, there should be an election.
Mr Donohoe declined to be drawn on an election but said Ms McDonald should remember that Mr Kenny came into office at a time when the economy was in a bailout and unemployment was rising.
He said what Enda Kenny did as Taoiseach was to lead a government to a recovered economy and a recovering society.