The Department of Foreign Affairs has denied reports that €150,000 was paid to Sudanese kidnappers to secure the release of aid workers Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki.

A spokesperson for the Department said the Irish Government ‘paid no ransom for the release of Sharon Commins’ and have been reassured by the Sudanese government that no money was handed over.

It comes as the Irish Times reported that the money was paid for the two GOAL charity workers who were released on 18 October after 107 days being held hostage.

Chief Executive of GOAL John O'Shea has said that the aid agency ‘categorically did not pay a penny’ to secure the release of the aid workers.

Mr O'Shea also said that to his knowledge the Irish Government did not pay money either, but he said he could not speak on the Government's behalf.

The Irish, Sudanese and Ugandan authorities have denied any ransom had been paid.

The newspaper said it was told by Musa Hilal, a former Arab militia leader who is now special adviser to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, that this denial ‘is just politicians' talk’.

‘The amount of money I just talked about now is something the government doesn't want to talk about,’ he said.

Mr Hilal is reported to have claimed the abduction dragged on for so long because agreement could not be reached on the ransom.

The Sudanese government initially said they would not allow the payment of a ransom, but the kidnappers threatened to take the women to neighbouring Chad, he said.

Mr Hilal claimed that he, working through mediators, had persuaded the gang to drop the Chad plan.

‘This is the truth,’ he told the newspaper. ‘Had I not intervened through these mediators, this situation wouldn't have been sorted out like this.

‘These guys would not have killed the girls but they would have taken them to Chad or any other place.’

Mr Hilal leads one of the most powerful Darfur militias that were allied with the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in its fight against ethnic minority rebels, who rose up in February 2003.

The resulting conflict left up to 300,000 people dead and forced 2.7 million to flee their homes, according to the UN. The Sudanese government says 10,000 people have been killed.