Thursday 19 September 2019

Donohoe 'very clear' ministers won't get more money - but councillors might

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says he made it "very clear" to his junior colleagues that the State will not be paying for their hotels anytime soon.

While Mr Donohoe regularly meets with ministers of State, it appears he was surprised when a delegation arrived at his office last week seeking extra expenses.

They complained that backbench TDs get an accommodation allowance for time spent in Dublin while the Dáil is sitting but ministers do not.

The anomaly has long been a sore point with ministers of State, but none had previously raised it formally with the Finance Minister.

Ministers of State are entitled to the basic TD salary of €94,535 plus a ministerial payment of €35,319, bringing their total income to €129,854.

While TDs from outside Dublin are entitled to claim between €25,295 and €34,065 in unvouched travel and accommodation expenses annually, ministers are not. Instead they are required to submit mileage claims to their department and must cover their own hotel bills.

Asked yesterday whether the eight junior ministers who made their case at a private meeting last week had a point, Mr Donohoe said: "I listened carefully to what they had to say, but made very clear in context of pressures in finances we need to be very careful about changes we make. I don't have any plans to make immediate changes on support available."

However, Mr Donohoe appears to be open-minded on proposals for a pay increase for county councillors.

A hike to the remuneration for local representatives has cross-party support ahead of the completion of a review of their entitlements by a senior counsel next March.

An Oireachtas committee heard this week that parties are struggling to get suitable candidates for next year's local elections because the 'representation payment' of €17,060 is too small.

Mr Donohoe said he has received an update on the process put in place to asses the role of councillors.

"Before we make any decision on their future compensation, further clarity needs to be brought what their work will be, particularly in the context of reforms to local government that are under way," he said.

Irish Independent

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