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Seanad Éireann

Cassidy apologises over 'it's not easy' remarks

The Leader of the Seanad says sorry for claiming it’s tough to live on €65k a year.

THE LEADER of the Seanad, Donie Cassidy, has apologised for his remarks earlier this week when he said it was “not easy” for members of the Seanad who had families to get by on their salary of €65,000 a year.

Cassidy told the Irish Examiner on Tuesday that most of the Seanad members are full-time politicians without any other income.

He acknowledged that €65,000 was a salary people could live on, but said senators had“taken a pay cut and then have to pay their levies. It’s not easy.”

His remarks were challenged yesterday in the Seanad by independent senator David Norris, who found the remarks “astonishing – and I was very ashamed when I heard it.”

Norris said he didn’t know “how anybody could make a provocative statement like that – if that statement was made – in the face of the fact that there are people in this country who are losing their jobs, are living on the minimum wage of €8.60 an hour or who cannot pay their mortgages.”

Cassidy clarified that he had merely intended to underline how senators were playing their part in addressing Ireland’s economic reality, and that members were living with reduced income as they were mindful of the difficulties facing others.

What I was saying was that Senators have all played a part and that we had taken the levy and wage reductions and would, in the national interest, continue to play our part. That was the intent of my reply.

I know that people are hurt, but that was never my intention. Anyone who knows me and my background, knows I am not someone who was reared with a silver spoon. I know exactly what it is like and how difficult it is to know where meals will come from in two or three days time.

I apologise again. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I am personally hurt also, apart from the hurt anyone else may have experienced. We all learn from time to time. It was never my intention to cause hurt.

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