Norris criticises ‘savage cuts’ to salaries of Leinster House ushers

Senator alleges ‘surreptitious attempt’ to reduce pay of Oireachtas attendants

Independent Senator David Norris has criticised what he called a ‘surreptitious attempt’ to make ‘savage cuts’ to the salaries of ushers in Leinster House. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Independent Senator David Norris has criticised what he called a ‘surreptitious attempt’ to make ‘savage cuts’ to the salaries of ushers in Leinster House. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Independent Senator David Norris has criticised what he called a “surreptitious attempt” to make “savage cuts” of 5.6 per cent to the salaries of Leinster House ushers.

Mr Norris described the move as an “absolute outrage” and said that ushers were on salaries ranging from €24,000 to €34,000 while there were Oireachtas members “who live in County Dublin but get €25,000 in travelling expenses”.

He said the move by management in the Oireachtas was outrageous and that it was disgraceful that people on such low wages should be subject to these cuts, particularly as they work anti-social hours.

Mr Norris said: “These are the people who make life work in the Oireachtas.”

Mr Norris called for a short debate on the subject in the Seanad, but Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke said it was a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, and that “the matter is not governed by a Minister”.

‘Moral obligation’

Mr Norris said: “If they are going to put the screws on the ordinary workers in this House, then there is a moral obligation on us to protest about it.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden said: “It seems strange that [cuts] should be proposed for people who are doing an extraordinarily good job.”

Labour Senator Denis Landy said that it was “disgraceful, in a period of recovery, that somebody in the organisation is seeking to cut the wages of people who are on very low wages as it stands”.

Independent Senator Feargal Quinn also voiced concern about the issue and said he would like further details.

“It may be part of something bigger, but if such a thing is happening, I would share Senator Norris’s concern.”

Mr Quinn said that “in the 22 years I have been here, I have been very impressed by the enthusiasm, commitment and level of service the ushers have given and continue to give.”

The Cathaoirleach said the concerns raised would be brought to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

Fine Gael’s Michael Mullins said it would be more appropriate for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to give members of the House a briefing on the issue, “before we say any more on the matter”.