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Salary caps

Gerry to Enda: I'm trying to prick your 'golden circle' bubble

Several ministers lobbied to have their advisers’ salaries increased.

GERRY ADAMS HAS accused Fine Gael of creating a “culture of privilege” and a “golden circle” to rival Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Féin’s leader made the comments in the Dáil this afternoon, referencing the fact several ministers lobbied to have the salaries of their advisers increased above the level proposed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Irish Independent reported today that ministers - including Joan Burton, Alan Kelly, Simon Coveney and Alex White - presented “exceptional” cases where they believed the pay caps should be breached.

“What all of this exposes, once again, is that there is no austerity for the government. A culture of privilege across the upper echelons of the public sector has been encouraged by this continued breach of pay caps for ministerial advisers,” Adams stated.

Kenny denied his assertion, saying Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin “shot down” most of the requests. In certain cases, he said he agreed to the pay rises in line with the skills of the individuals involved.

Adams was unhappy with the Taoiseach’s response, telling him:

You’re living in a bubble and every so often when you come in here we try to prick that little bubble.

Referencing the fact the Tánaiste had secured pay rises for her chief of staff (€144,550) and former PA ( €75,647), Adams said she would be better served by lobbying to help the most vulnerable in society.

Kenny retorted by saying Sinn Féin is “by far and way the best-resourced party in the country”, saying Adams should clarify how it raises funds.

Lone parents

Also during Leaders’ Questions, Micheál Martin accused the government of attacking lone parents.

From 2 July, lone parents with a child aged seven will transfer from the One Parent Family Allowance to Jobseeker’s Allowance Transition or the Back to Work Family Dividend.

Martin said this will result in lone parents who work 20 hours a week losing €50 in the first year, €65 in the second year and €80 in the third year.

Action Plans For Jobs Creations Enda Kenny and Joan Burton Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Kenny said the move is aimed at reducing “long-term social welfare dependence” and helping lone parents get back to work.

Martin described that assertion as “insulting”, labelling the change in policy “as Thatcherite as you could ever get”.

In response, Kenny said the government’s approach was a better option that Fianna Fáil’s preference of throwing lone parents “a few more quid” to “pay them off”.

In a separate statement, Burton said the changes to lone parent assistance ”will provide a financial incentive to jobseekers and recipients of One-Parent Family Payment with child dependants to take up employment, increase the hours they work or become self-employed”.

Domestic Violence

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan raised the issue of domestic abuse, saying services need to be provided for perpetrators as well as victims if the “cycle of violence” is to end.

She said men are usually the perpetrators and need to be encouraged to “acknowledge this abusive behaviour and try to prevent it”.

Dail Is Back Maureen O'Sullivan Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

O’Sullivan added that a growing number of men are themselves becoming victims of domestic violence, and often have nowhere to turn to. She said there is a shortage of refuges for abused women, but absolutely none for men.

Kenny told her the government will sign the Istanbul Convention on combating violence and ensure it’s a matter of priority for gardaí.

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