THREE MEMBERS OF the Taoiseach’s backroom staff are earning salaries above the €92,672 public pay cap.
Figures released to Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall in a parliamentary question show that the Department of the Taoiseach’s chief of staff and one of his special advisers are paid €156,380, while the government press secretary is on €115,431.
Altogether, the 17 political staff employed at the Taoiseach’s department are paid just under €1.4 million.
A spokesperson told TheJournal.ie the government has “reduced the number and cost of advisers compared to the previous dovernment, set a pay scale which was not the case in the past and ended the practice of paying attraction allowances”.
Salaries above the upper limit of the pay scale are permissible under the rules in certain circumstances but must be sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
“The government has also introduced numerous measures to reduce costs including halving the cost of ministerial transport, with a €20 million saving over a government term, abolishing ministerial severance payments and ending unvouched expenses for politicians.”
Since the pay cap was introduced in 2011, a number of government advisers’ salaries have breached the ceiling. The Tánaiste’s head of staff is paid an annual salary of €144,550.
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the fact that the government has breached the cap several times “raises a question around the commitment to political reform, much less the democratic revolution of which they spoke”.
It’s brazen. I don’t believe we’ve ever really gotten a convincing explanation from any member of government as to why the pay cap was breached time and time again.
“It reminds you of the L’Oréal approach, ‘Because I’m worth it’. It seems in the minds of the current government some are more equal and some are more worthy than others.”