Pampered Cabinet is a grotesque spectacle
The lavishly rewarded Government is ready to reduce the living standards of the less well off in the budget, writes VINCENT BROWNE
THIS WEEK and over the next few weeks the prospective €36 million pensioners (Cabinet members) will deliberate on the amount by which the living standards of the populace will be reduced, in particular the living standards, the welfare entitlements and the health and social supports of people living on incomes and supports that are a fraction of ministerial and TD incomes and supports. And then lavishly remunerated Fine Gael and Labour TDs will troop through the lobbies or press the relevant buttons from their Dáil benches to approve uncritically what their betters have decided on to make life more miserable for the unwell remunerated.
Yesterday’s revelation in The Irish Times that the pension pots of Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, Phil Hogan and Brendan Howlin will all be worth more than €3 million, and that almost all Ministers stand to get severance handouts of up to €140,000, with an income from their pensions of more than €80,000, and that these (very) fat cats will take “tough” decisions that will devastate the lives of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, makes the spectacle of their doings grotesque. It is made all the more so by their protestations of how difficult it is for them to do the budgetary arithmetic and how they will not “flinch” (as Eamon Gilmore inelegantly puts it) from taking the tough decisions.
The scale of the preferment enjoyed by our rulers is spectacular. TDs are paid €92,672 per year, which is well over twice the average wage in society. Many of the 166 TDs are paid substantially more, bringing their total “take” to a significant multiple of the average wage and a huge multiple of the income of hundreds of thousands of people whose incomes they want to cut and are about to cut.
Enda Kenny is paid €200,000 a year, in contrast to his kissing pal, Angela Merkel, who is paid just €192,000; his new pal,François Hollande, who is paid €180,000; and another pal, David Cameron, who gets about €178,000. As Taoiseach, Enda gets driven around in a top-of-the range State car for free by two gardaí. He has helicopters and a government jet at his disposal and countless other perks.
Eamon Gilmore gets paid more than the president of France and the prime minister of Britain, €184,405. And on top of that there are lavish perks: a top- of-the-range State car driven by two Garda drivers (this in acknowledgment of his exalted status as Tánaiste!), generous expenses, and subsidised or free nosh. The government jet and helicopters are at his disposal, plus hotel accommodation at every stop-off on his regular trips abroad, limousines at airports to hurry him wherever he is going and some flunky to open and close car doors for him lest he be too exhausted from not flinching.