Wednesday 13 December 2017

Half of senators double jobbing amid criticism of costly Seanad

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

ALMOST half of the country's senators are double jobbing at a time when the costly Seanad is under sustained attack, new figures reveal.

Of the 60 senators earning a basic salary of €70,000 plus expenses, 26 are boosting their incomes with part-time and occasional work.

They are engaging in side-line work as lecturers, barristers, psychologists, solicitors, farmers, auctioneers, musicians, restaurateurs, hoteliers, consultants, journalists, retailers, board members and GPs.

This is separate to the income dozens of senators are also drawing down as landlords. Many have long-term investments as shareholders and property moguls, according to the Register of Members' Interests published yesterday.

The register on the earnings and assets of senators comes at a time when they have been forced to defend their contribution to the political system and justify the need to retain the Seanad and the salaries of 60 senators.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has pledged to hold a referendum on axing the Seanad if elected Taoiseach. The party estimates that getting rid of the upper house would save more than €150m over five years.

One of the top property and shares investors is Fianna Fail senator and leader of the Seanad Donie Cassidy, who has rental income for a host of premises including the Belvedere Hotel, Cassidys Hotel and Maldron Hotel.

But, last night, he insisted he was a "full-time politician" focused solely on the Seanad as his sons ran the businesses.

And he defended the country's 60 senators, saying the majority were full-time senators who were operating political offices while getting no expenses to cover the costs.

The Longford-based senator also rejected suggestions that senators needed to maintain an interest in their previous occupations given the threat that hangs over the very existence of the Seanad.

"(A total of) 80pc in the Seanad had other incomes 20 years ago. I would think 80pc of the Seanad has no other income today. We have in Fianna Fail a very large amount of full-time senators," he said.


"There is no time for part-time work, especially given the downturn in the economy. Whether you're a TD or a senator, I can tell you nobody is getting involved for the money."

The difference between a Dail salary and a Seanad salary is 30pc, with TDs also in the frame for more expenses than senators.

While some 26 senators listed extra income under the category of "occupational income", dozens of others wrote "nil", even though they have investments in land, shares and properties.

Fianna Fail senators such as Martin Brady and Mark Daly declared extra incomes as auctioneers; John Ellis, Kieran Phelan and Francis O'Brien as farmers; Maria Corrigan as a psychologist; Lisa McDonald as a solicitor; Ned O'Sullivan as a retailer and Diarmuid Wilson as a Youthreach co-ordinator.

In Fine Gael, Paul Bradford boosted his salary as a farmer; Paddy Burke as a restaurateur; Paul Coghlan as a businessman with Sherry Fitzgerald; Eugene Regan as a barrister and Liam Twomey as a GP.

Former PD leader Ciaran Cannon declared income as a musician. In the Labour Party, Ivana Bacik and Alex White drew incomes as barristers and Dominic Hannigan as a consultant.

Independent senators Eoghan Harris and Shane Ross declared incomes as journalists, while David Norris, who has expressed an interest in running for President, declared income as a broadcaster, journalist and "after-dinner speaker".

Independent senator Ronan Mullen earned extra income as a lecturer and freelance journalist, while Fianna Fail senators Brian O Domhnaill and Labhras O Murchu are involved with Udaras na Gaeltachta and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.

Business guru Feargal Quinn, who is presenting the RTE series 'Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy', has a substantial list of shares in some 50 different companies, including Anglo Irish Bank. He is the only senator with shares in the state-owned bank.

Outspoken Fine Gael senator Eugene Regan has an extensive portfolio with Goldman Sachs, and apartments in Spain and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Former junior minister Ivor Callely, who once owned a number of properties, declared just two houses on the northside of Dublin, one of which is co-owed with other people.

Irish Independent

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