MICHEÁL Martin will be paid almost €1,500 more as Taoiseach than his predecessor Leo Varadkar, despite announcing a 10pc pay cut for himself and Cabinet ministers.
Senior ministers will be better off to the tune of almost €600 than their counterparts in the last government under the plans to change senior politicians’ pay.
Mr Martin yesterday announced what he billed as a government decision “to cut 10pc of pay across the board”.
However, the 10pc cut to the gross salary of the Taoiseach and his ministers will result in them getting paid more than their counterparts in the previous Fine Gael-led government.
That is because ministers in the last government waived pay restoration salary increases that were due to politicians under the public service pay agreements.
They voluntarily waived the increases as the country recovered from the last recession.
But the pay changes announced last night cut pay by 10pc from the overall sums they would be getting if all the pay restoration increases were included.
The pay cut announcement came after huge criticism of a plan announced last week to top up the salaries of all three super junior ministers by €16,000.
The Taoiseach admitted the issue “could have been handled better” as he revealed the ministerial pay cut.
Mr Martin said the decision on the 10pc pay cut was taken by the three party leaders in the coalition some weeks ago. Despite that, the Government went on to risk public backlash by seeking to ensure all three super-junior ministers got the €16,000 top-up.
The most recent reported salary for Mr Varadkar as Taoiseach was €185,350. Mr Martin is to be paid €186,831. Senior ministers in the last government were on €157,540.
Under the plans announced by the Government last night senior ministers sitting at Cabinet will now be paid €158,129.
A Government spokesperson last night said ministers would not be accepting a 2pc pay increase that would be due in October.
She said that the official salary of the Taoiseach was €207,590.
She added the €185,350 figure that Mr Varadkar had been on was the sum after the waiving of pay restoration that had been due to politicians after cuts that occurred under Fempi (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) legislation.
She said last night's announcement was "a straight 10pc salary cut and Government will also not be accepting the 2pc pay increase due in October under the Public Services Stability Agreement".
This morning, Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister for Social Protection, defended the 10pc pay cut saying that ministers will get much less than 'they were entitled to'.
“We made a decision at cabinet yesterday regarding ministers' salaries, to take a 10pc pay reduction, [and] also not to take a 2pc pay increase, that is due under the Public Service Agreement in October," she told Newstalk.
“So, that’s a total of a 12pc reduction this year. And it’s important to say politicians' salaries are aligned to the Public Service Pay Agreement and all ministers will continue to get much less than they were entitled to.
“And this is a new government and we want a clear criteria for the pay cut and the situation under the last government had got very, very complicated.
“We can now clearly state everyone has taken a 10pc pay cut.”
She added: “Regarding the previous pay of ministers, that policy ended with the last government and a new decision had to be made. The simplest way of doing it was with a straight 10pc cut.
“We signed up to a 10pc pay cut across the board. We are not taking the 2pc increase due in October, so that means as ministers we will be handing back over 600,000 euro per annum to the Exchequer. That’s a fact.”
Super Junior Ministers
The Government has been under fire after voting in the Dáil last week to allow all three super junior ministers - Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers, Fine Gael's Hildegarde Naughton and the Green Party's Pippa Hackett - to get a €16,288 pay hike.
The allowance was previously limited to two junior ministers who sit at Cabinet.
Fianna Fáil previously prevented an attempt by the former Fine Gael minority government to extend the allowance to a third super-junior - Mary Mitchell O'Connor.
Mr Martin last night defended the extension of the €16,000 allowance to a third junior minister.
"Two were already in receipt of a particular rate. The third wasn't," he said.
"That's an anomaly that's been going on for some time. I think it should be regularised."
He admitted it "could have been handled better collectively by the Government".
Then he announced: "The Government today have taken a decision which was in process to gift back 10pc of its salaries back to the State as and from the commencement of Government.
"So that's a 10pc cut in the rate of pay from Taoiseach right down the entire Government and the ministers of State as well. It has been formalised today by the Cabinet.
"The Government has taken the decision to cut 10pc of its pay across the board and I think that's an important measure to have taken."
Under the new arrangements, he will be paid €186,831 - €20,759 less than the full salary of €207,590 that was on offer - but still more than the €185,350 that Mr Varadkar had been taking.
Senior ministers are to get €158,129 - €17,570 less than the €175,699 that had been available, but still more than the €157,540 ministers in the last government were reported to have been paid after pay restoration waivers.
In recent days, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have been forced to move fast, in the open. We've seen with unusual clarity the underbelly of their type of politics.