Eoghan Harris: FG and FF must unite to tackle public sector pay
Voltaire is one of my heroes. Last Wednesday, emboldened by President McAleese's support for the embattled Seanad, I took his advice to "stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast, that all may share; be bold, proclaim it everywhere".
So I stood up in the Seanad and told my colleagues that while the bank debt was bad, it was manageable. What was not manageable was the burden of public sector pay and pensions. And that we politicians should take a 20 per cent pay cut before we taxed productive private sector workers or welfare mothers in the forthcoming four hard Budgets.
One set of grim figures I gave the Seanad sums up the public sector problem. Back in 2003, the Government took in €32bn in taxes and paid out €13bn in pay and pensions, 40 per cent of the total. In 2010, the Government forecast is also to take in €32bn, but the pay and pensions bill has risen to €19bn, or 60 per cent of the total.