The Jack and Jill Foundation is a “very worthy cause” and nobody can complain about children supported by the charity benefiting from Alan Shatter’s severance pay, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
The former minister for justice announced on the plinth outside Leinster House this afternoon that he intended to donate his severance package of €70,000 to the charity. He was accompanied by the founders of the children's foundation, Senator Mary Ann O'Brien and Jonathan Irwin.
“The Taoiseach I think will now be learning of it. The Taoiseach didn’t know,” he said.
Mr Shatter denied he had been pressured into donating the money to charity. “I wasn’t pressured by anyone into doing anything at all,” he insisted.
During the build up to the announcement today, speculation had been mounting that Mr Shatter might resign his Dáil seat. However, he said: “I’m going nowhere”.
Mr Shatter said he received a letter from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on Tuesday outlining his entitlement to €70,000. He was entitled to accept the money because his resignation pre-dated the signing of commencement orders for legislation abolishing such payments.
Mr Shatter said he had reflected on the matter and sought advice on donating the money. If he had retained it it would have been worth about €34,000 after tax but the charity would benefit from more than €50,000, he said.
The charity, founded in 1997, helps seriously ill children and their families. Its founders have been vocal on the issue of the withdrawal of discretionary medical cards in recent times.
Mr Irwin said he had been “stunned” to receive a phone call from Mr Shatter yesterday proposing the donation, and he thanked the former minister for his “philanthropic gift” for which he was “enormously grateful”.
Speaking at an event in Co Westmeath this afternoon, Mr Kenny said “I think nobody can complain about the benefit that the children who are in the care, the subject of attention from Jack and Jill, nobody can complain about it.”
According to Mr Kenny, the matter didn’t arise during discussions with Mr Shatter yesterday. “The intention here was that no Minister would accept from severance pay,” he remarked.
Mr Kenny pointed out that Mr Shatter “has not benefited from an entitlement that he had in law”, and said “it was his money to receive under the Act which wasn’t signed”.
“My preference would have been if the matter had been signed off. It’s now done, and I do hope that the children who are in the care of the foundation of Jack and Jill, will benefit from the transfer directly.”
Before Mr Shatter’s announcement this afternoon, Mr Kenny said he expected he would “do the right thing”.
Earlier Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he had never been in any doubt about Mr Shatter’s intention.
“I’ve always believed that he would do the honourable thing on this issue. I still believe that. I know he’s to make a statement later in the day but I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t do the honourable thing in relation to the issue of the severance payment.”
Mr Shatter had been entitled to accept the money because his resignation pre-dated the signing of commencement orders for legislation abolishing such payments.