Out-of-touch TDs slow to volunteer for pay-cut
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION TAOISEACH’S PLEAS FALL ON DEAF EARS
NOT ONE Wicklow TD has voluntarily taken a pay-cut despite asking us to tighten our belts.
In a special investigation the Star on Sunday contacted all 127 backbench TDs and found that just 11 of them have volunteered to take the ‘patriotic’ ten per cent pay cut.
As part of the October budget Finance Minster Brian Lenihan announced that all cabinet ministers, junior ministers and secretary generals of each Government department would ‘ surrender’ ten per cent of their current total pay in recognition of the economic downturn.
He called on all other politicians to follow suit saying ‘other public servants in leadership and senior positions may wish to consider whether it is appropriate for them to make a similar move in current circumstances’. However, just 11 of the remaining 127 politicians signed up for the pay-cut.
Neither the Government nor opposition TDs appear to have been moved by Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s pleas for a voluntary pay cut nor do they seem keen to take the 10 to 12 per cent drop in living standards he spoke about last week.
Despite a basic salary of over €100,000, the out-of-touch TDs said they had no intention of taking a voluntary pay cut. Most of them said they hadn’t taken the cut because of the new pension levy changes. However, the levy was only announced last week almost four months after the call for a voluntary pay cut.
The public sector pension levy will see TDs pay cut by up to 8.8 per cent but will also hit about 350,000 public servants, very few of whom make a basic wage in excess of €100,000.
TDs also supplement their basic wage with tax-free expenses and payments for committee work pushing many of them over €200,000 per year.
In Wicklow, just Junior Minister Dick Roche took a pay-cut of 10 per cent but this was foisted on him after the budget rather than any altruistic gesture on his behalf. With a salary of €139,266 the Fianna Fail minister took the cut along with all Cabinet members and junior ministers last October.
Independent TD Joe Behan claims a basic salary of €100,190 coupled with expenses of €34,654 and a secretary’s allowance of €40,090 bringing him to a total gross salary of €174,932. He didn’t take a pay cut and didn’t respond to the Star on Sunday.
Labour’s Liz McManus stuck to the party line and didn’t take a pay cut.
No Labour TD has offered to take a cut and a spokesperson for the party said that they would not be doing so unless it was implemented by the Gov- ernment. Deputy McManus earned €182,054 last year which included a basic salary of €106,581, expenses of €35,383 and a secretary’s allowance of €40,090. When contacted she said ‘I would be prepared to take a greater cut from my salary if it meant lowest paid public service workers did not have to pay the pension levy’.
FG’s Andrew Doyle and Billy Timmins didn’t feel the need to follow leader Enda Kenny’s example (he took a cut as ‘a personal gesture’). Deputy Doyle earned €198,366 which included a basic salary of €100,190, expenses of €58,086 and a secretary’s allowance of €40,090. He said he had not taken a cut because ‘we’re taking the public service levy like everyone else and we’re taking a 1 per cent levy on wages. Whatever the state decides to pay me I’ll be happy to take it’.
Wicklow’s biggest political earner is Billy Timmins who earned more than €200,000 last year. His basic salary of €106,581 is augmented by expenses of €57,919 and a secretary’s allowance of €40,090 bringing him to a total salary of €204,590.
Like party colleague Andrew Doyle he didn’t take a pay-cut and when contacted said ‘we are going to be subject to the pension levy and that is the equivalent of a wage cut’.
No cuts for Labour’s Liz McManus and Independent TD Joe Behan.