Government Rejects Proposal of €1 Million Charity Donation
Cabinet ministers have rejected the suggestion by former Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton that he give his controversial €1 million bonus to charity rather than return it to the building society.
Mr Fingleton insists that the €1m sum, which was paid out after the Government guaranteed the troubled institution, was a "contractual payment" rather than a bonus.
Although he had indicated in the past that he was prepared to give the money back to Irish Nationwide, provided certain conditions were met, he has so far failed to do so. Pressure has been growing on the Government to get the bonus back, as Irish Nationwide is now in state ownership, having received massive amounts of taxpayers’ money to bail it out.
It was reported yesterday that Mr Fingleton would rather give the money to charity than return it to Irish Nationwide. But two Cabinet ministers rejected that suggestion outright.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said: "I think it should go back to the building society, absolutely, yes."
His view was echoed by Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin: "I don’t accept the argument that Michael Fingleton is saying he’s going to give it to charity.
"Charity is a private thing. Everybody gives to charity. It’s not something you should be going around kind of boasting about. It’s money that he said he would give back [to Irish Nationwide] and I believe he should."
The Taoiseach said: "Well, it’s been the Government’s position that the €1m should be returned, and I think that’s what we’re continuing to seek to achieve... I’d like to have seen it returned by now."
Tax relief is available on donations to charities, so donors can write off some money they give to charity against their tax bills.
Sources close to Mr Fingleton have been quoted as saying it was never his intention to keep the money – which still resides in a deposit account with Irish Nationwide – for his own personal use.