Politicians' pay: €14,000 cut for Cowen -- but he's still on €214,000
BRIAN Lenihan's parting gift to the next Taoiseach was cutting his salary by €14,000 a year.
The reduction outlined yesterday by Mr Lenihan will bring the next Taoiseach -- likely to be Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny -- on to a reduced salary of €214,466.
But it will still leave him as one of the best-paid leaders in the EU, just behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel who earns €220,000.
The next Taoiseach will also be earning substantially more than British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is paid €170,000 a year.
And when Mr Cameron came to power earlier this year, he took a staggering £50,000 (just under €60,000) pay cut as a symbolic gesture ahead of major cutbacks.
The Taoiseach's salary is down from a peak of €285,582 in 2008, which made him one of the best-paid leaders in the world.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has pledged to further reduce it by capping it at €190,000. Mr Kenny has promised to announce further details of the salary he would draw as Taoiseach during the first week of the General Election. The Fine Gael leader has refused to spell out the salary he has in mind, except to say he "supports" the announcement of a €190,000 cap by Mr Gilmore.
Such a cap would bring the salary of the Taoiseach more in line with European and world colleagues.
The Taoiseach's new salary of €214,000 is separate to the pension, expenses and car which comes with the office.
Under last night's measures, government ministers will also have their wage packet cut by €10,000 to bring their salaries down to €181,416.
But the salaries of TDs and senators will go untouched and remain at the basic rate of €92,672.
And it is understood that new TDs after the next General Election will not be subject to the revised pay scale in the public service.
Under that system, new recruits will start on salaries 10pc lower than the existing scale. Mr Lenihan said TDs had already taken a cut in their gross pay of more than €15,000.
This included the pension levy and 2008 pay cuts.
And he claimed TDs' expenses had been cut by 10pc, including a 25pc cut to mileage rates, in last year's Budget.
Following a series of controversies over the payment of ministerial pensions to people who are still active in politics, the Government last night pledged that no such pensions would be paid to serving TDs and senators after the next General Election.
A "grace period" to the end of February 2012 will be implemented during which officer-holder pensions will be reduced in accordance with pension reductions in the Budget.
However, most such recipients, such as former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan, surrendered their pensions earlier this year during a major storm of controversy.
After February 2012, ministerial pensions will be calculated on the basis of actual pay.
Plans to end the lucrative long-service increments paid to TDs when they leave the Dail will also be implemented, Mr Lenihan said. In the past the long-service increment meant long-standing TDs and former ministers saw their salaries boosted year-on-year.