'The Cope' insists his pay package is different
DEFIANT north-west MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher yesterday insisted that he was in a different position to other politicians who are taking salaries as well as drawing ministerial pensions.
Speaking from his office in Brussels, he said was not going to respond with a knee-jerk reaction to give up his ministerial pension of €23,634.
"I have made my contribution. I haven't decided. I have to give it some thought because I am not similar to all of the other cases," he said.
The former minister of state, who was elected an MEP last June, insisted that there had been a drop in his income from €126,00 to €91,500, which had to be taken to consideration.
"I could have opted for a salary from the Department of Finance of €126,000 or €91,500 in Europe and I opted for a European salary -- so it would come out of the European budget, not the national exchequer.
"So one might say I am no longer a burden on the State."
"In addition to that, there is a level playing field in Europe, it is €91,500 for all members. But of course, we thought there was an advantage, insofar as the rate of tax would be much less than it is in Ireland.
"But we found out then that we had to top up our taxes to the Irish Revenue Commissioners. So I am making all those contributions.
"If legislation is introduced, I must accept that, as I did last year when the ministerial pension was reduced by 25pc.
"I will be asking the Minister for Finance to take into consideration the substantial reduction (in income)," he told 'Ocean FM' yesterday evening.
He also pointed out that much of his earnings during the first six years of his time as TD for Donegal South West in 1981 had been spent on the running of his constituency office in Dungloe.
"I have my full-time office -- and many people might not know this, but as it is a time to bare one's soul -- I was elected in 1981 and for the first six years till I became a minister of state, my entire salary went towards the provision of an office and services because there were no allowances for offices or for phones or for staff in the constituency at that time.
"I realise that there are many, many people with very little at the moment and under extreme pressure -- but I feel I have to point out all of this and to look at all of this before I take a knee-jerk reaction," he said.