Varadkar and McDonald clash over TDs pay restoration

Minister hits out at Sinn Féin claims TDs only take industrial wage

Leo Varadkar takes Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Francis Fitzgerald are out of the country. Video: Oireachtas TV


Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald clashed in the Dáil during a heated row over pay restoration to TDs.

Ms Mc Donald said it was unfair that TDs would receive the restoration increments over the next two years totalling €5,400 when social welfare recipients would only receive an extra €5 a week.

But the Minister said Sinn Féin was in power in the North and told the unemployed they were worth only £100 a week.

He also hit out at Sinn Féin claims that TDs only took the average industrial wage and asked how much they returned to the State.

Sinn Féin yesterday published a private member’s motion in a bid to stop Ministers, TDs and Senators receiving the increments due under the legislation unwinding the pay cuts “imposed on the public sector to save the State €1 billion after the economic crash.

Ms McDonald described the increments as increases but Mr Varadkar, taking Leaders’ Questions for the first time in this Dáil, said there were “no pay rises and no pay increases proposed for politicians”.

Wage cut

The Taoiseach had taken a wage cut of 40 per cent, Ministers a cut of 35 per cent and Ministers of State 25 per cent. None of them would be taking pay restoration, he said.

He said politicians should not be deciding politicians’ pay and their salaries were pegged in 2000 to those of principal officers in the public service.

Ms McDonald said: “We are all well paid and Deputies earn a basic salary of €87,258”, which many workers would never earn, and the Minister and his colleagues “take home much more, in excess of €150,000”.

Ms McDonald said it was unjust when Ministers had a take-home salary of more than €150,000 and TDs received €87,258, that social welfare recipients were getting an increase of just €5 while young unemployed were receiving only an extra €2.70 a week.

She said it was unfair that someone on the average public sector wage of €30,000 to €40,000 would only get pay restoration of €1,000 while TDs would have their pay restored to €92,000.

But Mr Varadkar said: “I’m interested to hear you attempt to lecture me” when Sinn Féin was in office in Northern Ireland “where you tell unemployed people that they’re worth less than £100 a week”.