Minister ‘absolutely’ understands concern over pay rise for judges

Political unease at agreed restoration of pensions for former high paid office holders

A Minister has said she can “absolutely understand” why people would be concerned about a Cabinet decision to approve pay increases for judges and reverse pension cuts for former high earning politicians.

Speaking on Wednesday, Minister for Media Catherine Martin said the Government members had not accepted public sector pay rises because the idea of taking “it didn’t sit well with us”.

“What was agreed at Cabinet reflects what was agreed for those who work in the public sector. But I can absolutely understand why people would raise questions and have concerns about any pay rises at this time...,” she said.

The Green Party deputy leder said she did not, however, feel that any one group should be excluded from the overall public pay agreement.

Ms Martin said she did not want to dictate to people whether they should accept pension cut reversals or pay increases.

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved plans to give the judiciary a 2 per cent pay increase in line with other rises in the public sector despite concerns raised by the Green Party. There was unease in political circles at the move, which came at a time when the Government has been criticised for not providing student nurse with full pay for their work.

The Cabinet also reversed pension cuts to retired taoisigh, ministers, and top civil servants who were in office during the financial crash. The decision affects some 4,000 of the highest-paid retired public servants.

The Cabinet also approved an increased allowance for the party whips including an increase from €10,000 to €19,000 for the Sinn Féin whip Pádraig Mac Lochlainn. The assistant Sinn Féin whip will receive an increase from €5,000 to €9,500.

Mr MacLochlainn has said he will not be taking the increase and will give it to the Exchequer.