Thursday 20 June 2019

McDonald and her Sinn Féin TDs stay tight-lipped on pay

Mary Lou McDonald. Picture: Collins
Mary Lou McDonald. Picture: Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Sinn Féin TDs, senators and MEPs have refused to reveal how much of their lucrative salaries they pocket.

The party's politicians - including its leader, Mary Lou McDonald - remain highly secretive about how much of their wages they take home.

This is despite Sinn Féin abandoning its tradition of elected representatives living on the 'average industrial wage' and Ms McDonald herself urging transparency on the issue of pay.

A TD's salary currently stands at €94,535, while senators are paid €66,940.

Sinn Féin representatives have made a virtue in the past of boasting about not accepting pay increases due to TDs and contributing portions of their salary to the party and its constituency services.

However, not one of the party's 30 TDs, senators or MEPs surveyed by the Irish Independent in recent weeks responded when repeatedly asked to set out their current take-home pay.

Questions were raised about how much Sinn Féin TDs actually pocket from their overall salaries after this newspaper revealed that Dessie Eillis had struck a deal with the party that allowed him to draw down his entire Dáil salary since 2011. He told party bosses that he could not afford to live on the average industrial wage.

While Ms McDonald was an MEP, she said: "I, like all Sinn Féin elected representatives and workers, am paid the average industrial wage from my salary. This is a principle I am immensely proud of.

"Sinn Féin is not in politics for monetary gain, we are in it to bring about progressive political change."

The party reviewed its policy in 2016, following complaints from urban members that they could not afford mortgages.

Last month, Ms McDonald was quoted as saying: "Let's know what everybody is taking home, let's all declare what our wages are."

Despite this, Ms McDonald herself did not respond to the simple question asked as part of the Irish Independent's survey: "What is your current annual take-home pay after statutory deductions (tax, USC, PRSI)?"

Sinn Féin's press office also failed to respond when asked when the party's politicians would tell the public what their take-home pay is. Nor did it respond when asked if Ms McDonald had a plan for when Sinn Féin representatives would reveal their wages.

It did not answer a question on whether all the party's TDs and senators waived pay increases due to Oireachtas members under public sector pay restoration.

The latest Central Statistics Office figures show that the average worker's gross pay is currently just under €39,000.

In September, a Sinn Féin spokesperson told the Irish Independent that the party did not have a pay system for its elected representatives and that all TDs and senators, including Ms McDonald, were paid by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

A statement said: "The party currently recommends a gross wage of €41,400 for Oireachtas members.

"It is up to each member to decide for themselves how they manage their wage, taking into account their personal circumstances, and invest the remainder in their constituency services."

Irish Independent

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