Rabbitte rejects allowance criticism

 

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has rejected criticism by the Opposition of allowances paid to two Ministers for State allowed to sit at the Cabinet table and spending by the Department of the Taoiseach.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Rabbitte said the spending has to be seen in perspective.

“Government has to do its job to the best of its ability to sell this country and put its best foot forward…we’re trying to win investment and win business for Ireland.

“It would be best if these kind of pernicious, ad hominem, personal rumours by Sinn Féin were ignored and better that Fianna Fáil be ignored given what they’ve done to the country,” he said.

Last week Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty criticised the payment of an allowance worth €17,205 to so-called super junior Minister Jan O’Sullivan, who has responsibility for housing and planning, and Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed the amount was taxable, after Mr Doherty said Ms O’Sullivan was given €17,205 “tax free annually on top of her €130,000 salary for the simple privilege of attending Cabinet meetings”.

The Government can pay the allowance to “not more than two specified holders of the office of Minister of State who regularly attend meetings of the Government” under the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial, Parliamentary, Judicial and Court Offices (Amendment) Act 1998 allows, the spokeswoman said.

However, Mr Doherty said the payment was “unwarranted” and showed the Government was out of touch. He said the payment represented more than 1.5 times the amount received by social welfare recipients.

“Enda Kenny signed the statutory instrument on the 31st of January which also continued an allowance for the same amount for the chief whip Paul Kehoe,” he added.