Sinn Féin TD pay move ‘nakedly populist’, says Donohoe

SF’s David Cullinane says TDs getting rise of €100 a week but workers getting just €20

Minister for Public Expenditure  Paschal Donohoe: “I don’t believe politicians should set other politicians’ pay.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe: “I don’t believe politicians should set other politicians’ pay.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has described as “nakedly populist” a call by Sinn Féin for TDs not to except pay restoration of €5,400 over two years.

He claimed Sinn Féin was attempting to divide those serving in the Dáil and those they seek to represent.

During a debate on the Sinn Féin Private Members’ Motion, Mr Donohoe pointed out that the Taoiseach, every minister and Minister of State had agtreed to forfeit any restoration and “that is the right thing to do”.

He said the pay of TDs was determined in line to the pay of principal officers in the public service and done independently. “I don’t believe politicians should set other politicians’ pay,” he added.

He called on Sinn Féin that “if you feel so strongly about this then you should return all of the salary that you are no accruing to yourselves to the taxpayer”.

Sinn Féin TDs accept the full salary but individually take the industrial wage.

The Minister stressed that “the cost of every Sinn Féin TD’s salary is the same as that of every other TD”.

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane, who introduced the motion said it related to a core issue of fairness and leadership.

The Government could not commit to deliver on equality in public service pay, while supporting an agreement prioritising those earning above €65,000, including TDs, in terms of pay restoration.

Mr Cullinane said a TD was paid €87,258 a year. “I believe TDs should be reasonably well paid; I believe TDs are reasonably well paid,’’ he said.

He said the salary was 2½ times the average industrial wage and would receive an increase of €5,400 in pay restoration.

This, Mr Cullinane added, represented €100 a week, while an average public sector worker received €20 weekly in pay restoration.

He said the Taoiseach and Ministers were not taking the increases due to them because they knew it would not wash with the public.

There was nothing stopping TDs making a collective decision not to take the increase at a time of industrial unrest, he added.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should show an ounce of leadership.

But Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary told Mr Adams “when you make a virtue of not taking a salary but take it then you must be answerable”.

He said Sinn Féin had not mentioned its own internal pay review. “You protest that you’re not taking an increase but you’re receiving an internal increase and that is sleeveen politics.”