Monday 25 September 2017

Pressure on TDs to forgo pay hikes

Noel Rock: 'not elected to be a popular person among TDs' Photo: Tom Burke
Noel Rock: 'not elected to be a popular person among TDs' Photo: Tom Burke

Kevin Doyle and Ryan Nugent

A Fine Gael TD has said he expects to be unpopular among some of his colleagues after deciding to decline a €2,700 pay increase.

Dublin North West TD Noel Rock has become the first government backbencher to refuse the controversial pay rise, which is due next April.

Ministers are expected to agree to turn down pay restoration worth almost €4,000 in 2017 when they hold a Cabinet meeting next week following a considerable public backlash.

However, Mr Rock is only the second TD to indicate that he will sacrifice the money, following in the footsteps of Independent TD for Roscommon Michael Fitzmaurice.

Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have both called on the Government to formally stop the pay rises for politicians.

Mr Rock's decision is likely to put pressure on his colleagues to take a similar stance, but he said: "I'm not elected to be a popular person among TDs."

The first-time TD said it was his own "personal decision".

"I believe that in a time when young gardaí, young nurses and teachers are fighting for partial pay restoration themselves, it's not befitting for me as a young TD representing them to take such a large pay increase myself."

Expenses

The 28-year-old previously gave back any expenses that were available to him as a member of Dublin City Council.

He said: "We're not out of the woods yet as a country and I think the idea of a young TD like myself taking a pay increase at this stage is unpalatable. Now I realise that isn't the case for many of colleagues.

"Many TDs from different parties have different personal circumstances, maybe they need the pay increase for whatever reason."

Asked about the controversy as he opened a new constituency office for Dublin-Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the matter of ministerial pay "will come before Government next week".

He noted that the ministers in the previous Fine Gael/Labour Cabinet had agreed to waive increases allowed under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Politicians' pay is linked to that of a principal officer in the public service, meaning TDs will get a pay rise of €2,707 next year and again in 2018.

Ministers are entitled to a hike of €11,735 in three tranches between next April and January 2019.

Fine Gael has indicated that it will not instruct TDs to waive their increases, noting that the "pay of politicians should be far removed from political influence".

Similarly Fianna Fáil said the current system of linking pay to the civil service helps to "ensure transparency".

Irish Independent

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