Minister dismisses bid to halt €5,000 pay rises for TDs
Spending Minister Paschal Donohoe has branded Sinn Féin's attempt to halt pay increases for TDs as "nakedly populist".
He said if the rival party felt so strongly about it, it should return to the Exchequer the portion of the salaries its TDs don't personally take, rather than using it to fund their own party staff.
Mr Donohoe was speaking as the Dáil debated a Sinn Féin motion to block pay increases for TDs worth more than €5,000 over the next 14 months.
Sinn Féin's David Cullinane said that the first tranche of the increase was due on April Fool's Day which, he said, "adds insult to injury".
He welcomed the Government decision that the Taoiseach, as well as senior and junior ministers, won't be taking pay rises that were due to them.
He said that other TDs should reject the pay increase too, describing the matter as an issue of "fairness and leadership".
He said that pay increases to TDs will be worth €100 a week, while workers on average wages in the public service will get just €20 a week under the deal for pay restoration.
Mr Cullinane said Sinn Féin TDs won't be taking the pay rise.
He said that he draws down the full current €87,258 TDs and uses some of that to employ a person in his Waterford constituency.
He said this decision doesn't impact on the taxpayer.
Mr Donohoe said the Government is opposing the motion.
He accused Sinn Féin of being "nakedly populist" and of trying to drive a wedge between TDs and the people they represent, and he hit out at Sinn Féin's pay policy for TDs.
"If you feel so strongly about this, return your salary back to the taxpayer," he said.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said his TDs will be returning the increase.
"That's not the question I asked," Mr Donohoe said.
"What I said is if Sinn Féin feel so strongly about the principle, you should return back all of the salary you have not accrued to yourself and return it to the Exchequer.
"The reality is that the cost to the Exchequer of every Sinn Féin TD in this house is the same as any other TD in Dáil Éireann."
Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary said that his party was opposing the Sinn Féin motion, as the party believed the current system - where an independent body decides politicians' salaries - should remain in place.
He said that system meant that TDs and Senators couldn't decide to increase their salaries "on a whim".
Labour's Brendan Ryan gave a similar reason for their opposition to the Sinn Féin proposal, calling it "a time-waster of a motion".
With both the Government and Fianna Fáil opposing the motion, it is set to be defeated in a vote tomorrow.