Government must 'show example' in cutting allowances

Wed, Nov 14, 2012, 00:00

If we are going to start cutting pay, we should start at the top and show an example to the citizens

The Government should set an example and “start at the top” in cutting public sector pay, according to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

He pointed to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s salary being higher than that of the French and Spanish prime ministers, and said senior civil servants, public hospital consultants, special advisers and Ministers were all paid significantly more than their EU counterparts.

“If we are going to start cutting pay, we should start at the top and show an example to the citizens,” he said during questions about allowances paid in the Taoiseach’s department.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil a number of allowances in his department had been abolished including a delegates’ allowance for officials representing the State at EU or other meetings – a saving of €3.5 million this year and over €16 million by 2015. A clothing allowance for staff attending official functions was also abolished.

Other allowances being abolished for new beneficiaries include part of the private secretary allowance (four former private secretaries retain a portion of it:€24,427). A footwear allowance for outdoor duties (€65) is now paid every second year rather than annually.

The Taoiseach said many allowances were to junior grades in his department and the Civil Service. He said the annual cost of current allowances not to be paid to new officials across the Civil Service was €475 million.

Oversold

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised the plans to abolish allowances as “completely oversold” with just €3 million in savings of a projected €150 million from a €1.5 billion pot.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins suggested the Taoiseach consolidate these allowances with pay for low and middle-income workers “while scrapping them completely for the high-flyers in the public sector who are paid more than €100,000”.

Mr Kenny agreed it would be “far preferable if these allowances were modified or changed to become part of the pay of those involved”