Thursday 14 November 2019

Now Ceann Comhairle opts out of his €4,000 pay increase

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail Picture: Doug O'Connor
Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail Picture: Doug O'Connor
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has become the latest politician to confirm that he won't take a pay rise that kicked in on April 1.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl was in line for a pay bump of almost €4,000 as part of pay restoration to thousands of civil servants.

However, Oireachtas authorities have confirmed that, like some ministers, he will waive the salary increase that would have seen him earn €161,451.

As a result his pay will remain at €157,540.

The majority of TDs who aren't office holders are accepting a pay boost of €2,700 that kicked in last weekend and will see them earn €89,965.

Sinn Féin has told its 23 TDs to sign waiver forms allowing the State to recoup their pay rises. But the party last night confirmed its two whips will draw down increased allowances worth a combined €14,400 due to them as office holders, saying the cash will be used to cover expenses in their roles.

The allowance available to Sinn Féin whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh has risen to €9,600 from the €5,520 offered for the job during the last Dáil. The rise is due to the party's increased numbers after the last election. It includes an additional €400 increase brought in last weekend.

The sum available to assistant whip Denise Mitchell has risen to €4,800 from the €2,760 her predecessor was eligible for in the last Dáil.

That included an extra €200 on April 1.

Rates for the additional salaried allowances available to whips across the political spectrum were changed earlier this year after a review carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure.

Read More: Revealed: The politicians accepting a €2,700 pay hike... and those who aren't

When increased rates for the Sinn Féin's whips first emerged, the Irish Independent asked both Mr Ó Snodaigh and Ms Mitchell if they would take the payments. They said the allowances would be "used to cover the expenses incurred in the role of a whip, such as renting rooms and organising meetings, and hosting delegations".

A party spokesman last night said "this position has not changed", when asked if they would also take last weekend's further increase to the allowances. Sinn Féin says its TDs take an "average wage" of €39,500 and use the balance of their salaries to "enhance their constituency services".

All TDs suffered a €5,414 drop in wages, from €92,672 to €87,258, during the recession.

Pay restoration worth €2,707 came in last Saturday.

There will also be a similar increase next year. Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe asked senior and junior ministers to voluntarily gift the money back to the State after the increases caused controversy last October and they all agreed to do so.

Most political parties opted to allow TDs to decide for themselves on the pay rise.

Two Fine Gael TDs, Hildegarde Naughton and Noel Rock, have signed waiver forms and Fianna Fáil's Thomas Byrne also confirmed that he is gifting the money back to the State.

Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher is among four Fianna Fáil TDs that intend to give their net pay increase to local charities.

The six Solidarity-People-Before-Profit TDs are taking the increase but will use the cash for campaigns like Repeal the Eighth and to support striking Bus Éireann workers.

Irish Independent

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