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Newstalk denies agreeing to preconditions on Enda Kenny interview

The Fine Gael leader said yesterday evening that he would not be taking any payments from teaching pension, but Newstalk presenter suggested Kenny would not actually discuss the issue in an interview.

FG leader Enda Kenny speaks to supporters in Westport, Co Mayo, on Saturday.
FG leader Enda Kenny speaks to supporters in Westport, Co Mayo, on Saturday.
Image: AP Photo/Peter Morrison

Updated at 15:50

NEWSTALK HAS ISSUED A STATEMENT saying it did not agree to preconditions with Fine Gael ahead of Enda Kenny’s interview with the station last night, despite comments made by one of its presenters this morning.

During a campaign event yesterday, Kenny announced that he would not be drawing on his €100,000 teaching pension and had resigned his teaching post “many years ago”.

Responding to comments made by Micheál Martin which suggested Kenny’s position was in direct contrast to Fine Gael’s policy on excessive political pensions, Kenny said he had not drawn “one red cent” from teaching in more than 30 years, the Examiner reports.

However, in an interview with Newstalk’s Chris Donoghue yesterday evening which was broadcast this morning on the Breakfast programme, Kenny did not discuss the pensions issue.

Donoghue said that the interview was done on the understanding that Kenny’s pension would not be broached. Micheál Martin, who was in Newstalk’s studio this morning with Donoghoe, said he found that extraordinary and party leaders should be prepared to answer any question that’s asked.

Donoghue said he had previously conducted interviews with the Taoiseach on the condition that this or that wouldn’t be asked, to which Martin said he and the station should not accept conditions being imposed on their interviews. Martin said he had answered all questions put to him for the last three years without conditions.

Newstalk subsequently released a statement saying that no preconditions were set by Fine Gael or sought by the party ahead of that interview and “Newstalk considered that the issue of the pension had been dealt with in Enda Kenny’s speech” yesterday evening.

Fine Gael’s director of elections Phil Hogan accused Fianna Fáil of being “reduced to sniping from the sidelines and peddling untruths”. Hogan said “absolutely no preconditions were set” for the interview, and said that Newstalk management “have confirmed this to Fine Gael, stating that Newstalk do not conduct interviews with preconditions in any case”.

Pension contention

Kenny is entitled to a €100,000 lump sum and an annual pension of at least €30,000 as well as his politician’s salary.

He initially indicated he would defer receiving payments from his teaching pension until after he had left politics, but later yesterday he said he would take neither the lump sum nor the annual payments, according to the Irish Independent.

Kenny also challenged Micheál Martin to resign from his teaching position. In response, Martin said he had previously announced he would not be returning to teaching and would give up his seconded post in the next academic year “when the teacher holding the post is in a position to make alternative arrangements”.

The Fianna Fáil leader also claimed that Kenny had been “caught out” over the pensions issue and had changed his position “rapidly in a matter of hours”.

Fianna Fáil ministers Pat Carey and Mary Hanafin have both indicated they would draw on their teaching pensions, and Carey says he has already accepted a €120,000 lump sum pension payment.

Listen back to Chris Donoghue and Micheál Martin discussing Enda Kenny’s interview >

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