The American Ireland Fund has strongly defended the pay deal it reached with former chief executive Kingsley Aikins, which The Irish Times reported Friday reached $800,000 last year.

Aikins stepped down last month and has since signed a contract as a consultant for $325,000.

New CEO Kieran McLaughlin stated that Aikins salary was "devised by an outside compensation consultant with advice from Price Waterhouse Coppers and was passed by the fund's compensation committee."

He stated that Aikins was a 'guru of global philanthropy" who had raised unprecedented amount of money for Irish causes."

McLaughlin explained that Aikins compensation package last year included a relocation allowance after he moved back to Ireland from the U.S. as well as housing allowance and tax equalization payments.

In the last ten years the American Ireland Fund has supported Irish charities to the tune of $110 million.

"The fund is broker between need in Ireland and philanthropy in the US, " McLaughlin told The Irish Times.

Hillary Clinton recently praised the fund calling it " a model for effective far reaching philanthropy that compliments and improves the work of government."

She will be guest of honor at their March dinner this year in Washington.