Thursday 29 June 2017

Government signs off on €2.2m salary top-ups for TDs and senators

The payments were approved by ministers after Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe brought the order on the additional salaried allowances to Cabinet. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
The payments were approved by ministers after Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe brought the order on the additional salaried allowances to Cabinet. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Government has approved salary top-ups for politicians totalling around €2.2m over a full five-year Dáil term.

The sum includes more than €1m for the chairpersons of Oireachtas committees and €543,000 for TDs who serve as party whips or assistant whips.

Two Government members who attend Cabinet - Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath and Defence Minister Paul Kehoe - are entitled to €15,829 per year each. That's in addition to their junior minister-level salaries of €121,639. A payment of €15,829 is also available to Government chief whip Regina Doherty. Some changes to the system of payments reflect the different make-up of the Dáil after last year's election.

The allowances are on top of a TD's basic salary of €87,258. That salary is set to increase by €2,700 this year, amid wider pay rises in the public sector.

A small number of TDs have said they won't take the pay hike while ministers' salaries have been frozen.

Among the payments approved last night is €5,520 for the whips of the Social Democrats, the Green Party and Independents4Change. These three groups weren't catered for under the system in place during the last Dáil. The Fianna Fáil whip, Michael Moynihan, can draw down a payment of €17,480. That is unchanged from the figure previously on offer to his party's whip.

The sum available to Sinn Féin whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh is €9,200, up from €5,520 previously listed for his party when it had fewer TDs. Sinn Féin says its TDs "take an average wage" and use the balance for constituency services. The whip's allowance is used for expenses relating to the role, a spokesman said.

The €8,740 on offer to committee chairpersons remains unchanged from the last Dáil. There are currently 25 committees with chairpersons entitled to a payment.

Senators that hold leadership positions or serve as whips are entitled to payments of more than €160,000 over five years.

The payments were approved by ministers after Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe brought the order on the additional salaried allowances to Cabinet.

A Department for Public Expenditure spokesperson said it was standard procedure for the system of allowances to be considered to reflect the changes in the make-up of the Dáil and Seanad after an election. "Certain rates have been revised to better reflect current party numbers," she said. "New parties are also now represented in the Dáil, which must be accounted for."

She pointed out that other rates - including payments for junior ministers that attend Cabinet - remained unchanged. TDs and senators can only claim one payment, so a party whip that also serves as a committee chairperson can only claim one of the allowances. The salaried allowances are subject to all taxes, PRSI and pension deductions.

An Oireachtas spokesperson said the sums set out by the department were linked to the various roles listed and weren't necessarily drawn down by the individual TDs or senators.

Irish Independent

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