herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

My cancer care is cut ... but Kenny gave pal a €35k pay rise

CRONYISM ROW: Voters disgusted by Kenny

THE fallout from one of the grubbiest pieces of cronyism to raise its head in many years has taken a new twist today.

Details of widespread public unhappiness at the €35k pay rise given by the "disgustingly disrespectful" Taoiseach Enda Kenny to his pal Ciaran Conlon reached a new level, with the release of letters under the Freedom of Information Act today.

A terminally ill cancer patient, a dole claimant and a parent of autistic children are among 80 individuals who penned letters to the Taoiseach venting their fury at the pay increase awarded to Mr Conlon.

Animal

Mr Kenny was told that the hike represented "one rule for the ordinary, another for your circle of friends" with another member of the public describing it as "a new low in political cute-hoorism".

One unemployed woman told Mr Kenny she feared Budget cuts would force her to buy food from "the local animal feeds shop".

It emerged late last year that the Taoiseach intervened in an internal Government row over Mr Conlon's pay -- at a time when thousands of people living in poverty were facing more cuts from the Government.

He ordered that Mr Conlon -- an adviser to Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton -- be awarded a 37pc pay hike, upping his annual salary to €127,000.

The move came despite strong internal resistance from both Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin. However it has emerged that the pay increase struck a chord with the public, including those who claimed to be Fine Gael voters.

One of the most impassioned letters was sent by a terminally ill cancer-sufferer, Yves Chavanne, whose treatment was cancelled due to apparent Budget cuts.

He told Mr Kenny: "To think that this amount could pay the salary of a nurse for a year in a ward threatened by closure or an assistant teacher for children with special needs...

"But why should they care? Cronies have to look after cronies and the common people will just have to shut up and pay."

Joseph Rossa, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and whose children have autism, wrote: "I am a father of four. I am unable to work as I have Parkinson's disease.

"We have two sons who have autism and require services that we pay for out of our monthly children's allowance. My 10-year-old son needs a special needs assistant in class but your Government is denying him this."

And 53-year-old unemployed woman Sue Anthony revealed to the Taoiseach that she has been "laying awake at night worrying about the Budget" and that she feared she would have to buy her food from the "local animal feeds shop".

A number of those who wrote to the Mr Kenny compared him to former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey.

"I'm writing this email because I am disgusted, disappointed, and very much saddened by your behaviour in securing a pay hike for a friend. It smacks of Fianna Fail and the Charlie Haughey of the 80s," wrote Emmet Walsh.

And Pat Cassidy, a "Fine Gael voter", wrote: "Have some sense Enda, we didn't vote for you to watch you become Charlie Haughey-light!"

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