Taoiseach to get backbench TD’s salary when he steps down
People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny compares leader’s ‘massive pension’ to nurses’ salaries
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Minister for Health Simon Harris at the site of the National Children’s Hospital, at St James’s Campus, Rialto, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Gino Kenny: “That is the two-tier system we have in this country, where politicians go off into the sunshine with a golden handshakes and big money”
Enda Kenny will be drawing a backbench TD’s salary when he stands down as Taoiseach, he told the Dáil after he was criticised about the size of his pension and lump sum payment.
Mr Kenny was responding to People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, who compared the Taoiseach’s “massive pension” to the salaries of nurses who he said were not being paid properly and were emigrating as a result.
It was reported last week that Mr Kenny would receive an estimated lump sum of €378,000 on his retirement and a pension estimated at €126,000 annually.
The Dublin Mid-West TD raised the issue of pensions and salaries as he highlighted the closure of 11 beds at the Linn Dara adolescent psychiatric unit in Cherry Wood, Dublin, and listed the closure of wards and operating theatres across the State, including St Luke’s in Kilkenny and Wexford General Hospital, because of the staff shortages.
He also referred to an Irish Times report that 2,520 children and young people were on a waiting list for an initial assessment for mental health services in February, 60 per cent of whom had been waiting for more than a year, and 26 per cent for more than two years.
He claimed there was a two-tier pay system where nurses and medical professionals are going to the private rather than the public sector.
“Fundamentally, Taoiseach, I think you’re a very decent man but how can you after six years, turn around and hold your head up high and said that in your tenure this was a success?
“I do not want to make it personal because I try to differentiate between the personal and political. However Taoiseach, you’re going to walk away with a massive pension in two weeks’ time. You will get a golden handshake and a pension of €150,000. Most people listening to these proceedings will be quite nauseated when they hear that.
“That is the two-tier system we have in this country, where politicians go off into the sunshine with a golden handshakes and big money. Taoiseach, are you not ashamed of what you’ve left behind?”
But the Taoiseach, who said the TD was also a “decent man”, said he was “very proud of the people of this country for responding to an unprecedented economic crisis in a way that has made us the envy of many in Europe”.
He said there were incentives for nurses to encourage them to take up contracts. He stressed that the problems with Dara Linn did not relate to funding but to staff shortages.
And in a comment on his financial situation, he said “in respect of your matter about pensions, when I leave this seat here, I will continue to be paid as a backbench TD”.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said “but a big pension will follow”.
Independent Alliance Minister of State Finian McGrath quipped: “If it’s that easy lads, come into Government.”