Taoiseach's salary to drop by €14,000 while Ministers face €10,000 pay cut


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen’s salary has been reduced by €14,000 to €214,000 as a result of changes announced in the Budget, while pay for other Ministers has been cut by over €10,000.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan also announced the Government will move to ensure that the maximum salary in the public sector will be €250,000.

This will include the salaries of the heads of State agencies, although Mr Lenihan accepted that there were “issues about the contractual position of incumbent post holders in State agencies”.

In addition, Mr Lenihan said all new entrants to the public service would be paid 10 per cent less than the current rate.

A spokesman in the Department of Finance later clarified that this would not apply to new TDs or Senators entering the Oireachtas after the next election. However, it will apply to the salary rate of those appointed as judges in 2011.

Mr Cowen’s salary has been subjected to a 6 per cent cut. In his Budget speech, Mr Lenihan contended that “this brings the overall reduction on the gross pay of the Taoiseach to over €90,000 and in the case of Ministers to over €60,000”.

This claim was based on the fact that the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service recommended in late 2007 that the salary of the Taoiseach be increased by €38,000 to €308,000, making the post the highest paid in the EU.

This increase was never implemented. Instead, Mr Cowen’s salary – soon after he became Taoiseach in 2008 – rose to €285,000 but it was reduced to €257,000 in October 2008 and then to €228,000 in January 2010.

The pay of senior Ministers and the Attorney General will now be €181,000 after a cut of €10,000 is imposed. Tánaiste Mary Coughlan’s salary will be reduced by €11,000, from €208,000 to €197,000.

The Taoiseach and Ministers had already taken substantial reductions in their pay, Mr Lenihan noted. He said the overall pay of the Taoiseach had fallen by 28 per cent since 2008. Even with his reduced salary, Mr Cowen will still be earning more than leaders of other European countries, including British prime minister David Cameron (€172,000); Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (€92,000) and Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (€138,000).

German chancellor Angela Merkel earns €242,000 per annum while the salary of French president Nicolas Sarkozy is €253,000.

Mr Lenihan said that very few office holders had salaries that high but added that “there is a larger number in the State agencies”.

Accepting there could be difficulties in applying the cap in some State agencies, Mr Lenihan said his position as a shareholder in these companies could be used to achieve the goal “within a reasonable time frame”. He admitted it would be difficult to apply the new rates to current heads of agencies until their contracts expired.

President McAleese last night informed the Government of her intention to voluntarily reduce her salary in 2011 to the maximum rate of pay of €250,000 per annum, as announced in the Budget and to be applied to the next President.

President McAleese has already voluntarily surrendered €65,102 (20 per cent) of her salary for 2010.

Fine Gael spokesman on finance Michael Noonan said the cuts in ministerial pay had not gone far enough. “I believe if we do not start cutting our own prospects and our own salaries, we do not have the moral authority to preach to others,” he said.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore welcomed the cut in ministerial salaries but said it did not go far enough. “Nothing has been done in terms of reforming the ministerial pension regime,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said that even with his pay cut, Mr Cowen would still be paid more than the British prime minister.

What they earn €250,000 pay ceiling

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan:

Taoiseach Brian Cowen:was earning €228,000.

New salary stands at €214,000.

Backbench TD:Tom Kitt was earning a basic salary of €92,672. New salary unchanged.


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