Saturday 22 July 2017

Sinn Féin bid to block TDs' pay hikes 'nakedly populist'

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe and Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Tony Gavin
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe and Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Tony Gavin
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Minister Paschal Donohoe has branded Sinn Féin’s bid to halt pay increases for TDs as “nakedly populist”.

He said if the rival party felt so strongly about it they should return the portion of their salaries they don’t personally take to the exchequer, rather that using it to fund party staff.

Mr Donohoe was speaking as the Dáil debates 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 is due on April 1 - April fool's day - which he says "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 due to them.

But 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 somebody in his Waterford constituency.

He said this decision doesn't impact on the taxpayer, but accepting the pay increase would.

Public Expenditure minister Mr Donohoe said the government is opposing the motion and 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. Return your salary back to the taxpayer," he said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said his TDs will be returning the increase to the exchequer.

Mr Donohoe said, "That's not the question I asked.

"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 the same as any other TD in Dáil Éireann," he added.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary said that his party is opposing the Sinn Féin motion as it believes the current system where an independent body decides politician's salaries should remain the forum for where the decision is made.

He said that system means that TDs and Senators can't decide to increase their salaries "on a whim".

Labour's Brendan Ryan gave a similar reason for their oppsoition to the Sinn Féin proposal calling it "a time-waster of a motion".

With both the government and Fianna Fáil opposing the Sinn Féin motion it is set to be defeated in a vote on Thursday.

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