Tuesday 6 December 2016

Empathy one quality we can't do without in Aras

Published 27/06/2011 | 07:54

MAIREAD McGuinness and Gay Mitchell voted in the European Parliament last April against a proposal to freeze MEPs' salaries and expenses next year. The event attracted little publicity at the time, but most of those who noted the vote saw it as yet another example of the "European gravy train".

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This description is not entirely fair. Most of the MEPs' staggering expenses, about €400,000 a year, are claimed and spent legitimately. There may even be a few who spend the entire amount on public duties. But that any member should oppose a freeze at the present time borders on the amazing.

Ms McGuinness and Mr Mitchell are both seeking the Fine Gael nomination for the Presidency. Opinion is divided on what constitutes qualification for that office; but it is unanimous on one point -- that it includes empathy with the Irish people.

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