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Ministers aren't going to get a €12,000 pay hike after all

The Department of Public Expenditure has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that Minister Paschal Donohoe will ask Cabinet to waive the pay restoration.

Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael Noonan.
Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael Noonan.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS HAVE are expected to waive a €12,000 pay hike following a public outcry over Budget 2017.

Ministers’ salaries are to be frozen at €157,000, with no increases next year.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe will ask Cabinet colleagues to forego their pay restoration, the Department of Public Expenditure has confirmed to TheJournal.ie.

“We can confirm the minister will bring it to Cabinet, ” a spokesman said. “That’s not the same as making the decision, but it’s expected to get support.

“It basically reaffirms the decision by the last Government. The Cabinet will make the decision, and the ministers will decide whether to waive their pay increase.”

Ministers in the previous government agreed to forego the pay rises but the commitment has yet to be reaffirmed by the present Government.

Cabinet Taoiseach Enda kenny unveils his Cabinet in May. Source: Rollingnews.ie

€5 increase

The €5,000 pay increase – or pay restoration – for TDs is expected to go ahead, however, under the Haddington Road Agreement for public servants, as any waiver would require fresh legislation.

The Department for Public Expenditure would not comment on TDs’ pay increases when asked by TheJournal.ie, but the matter is expected to be the subject of forthcoming Dáil debates.

The pay rise for TDs has sparked controversy, due to a lack of clarity on a start date for the €5 to be added to social welfare payments. It remains unclear when in March the increase will kick in.

Speaking yesterday on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Minister Donohoe said:

The last thing on my mind is the welfare and salaries of TDs I can assure you.

When told by one caller that the perception of TDs getting a huge salary increase while others would only see an extra €5 every week, Donohoe said:

I also understand that perception and I’m so keenly aware of the hurt and anxiety that was caused to so many people after all we have went through.

TDs are due to have their wage cuts reversed, however. In the past, TDs’ salaries were separate to those of other civil servants, however they are now linked to salary of a principal officer in the civil service.

Noonan July Finance Minister Michael Noonan Source: Rollingnews.ie

Haddington Road

The basic salary of a TD is currently at €87,258. This was cut from €92,672 in recent years. Under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement, civil servants earning over €65,000 took a pay cut effective from 1 July 2013.

Civil servants earning between €80,000 and €150,000 (including TDs) had their salary reduced by 8%. For TDs this amounted to about €5,400.

This was in order to achieve savings to the State of €1 billion as laid out in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2013.

Under the terms negotiated in the Haddington Road and Lansdowne Road Acts, the civil servants who had their salaries cut will begin to get them restored next year.

This restoration will take place in two tranches, on 1 April 2017 and later on 1 January 2018.

TDs will see their wages restored by €2,700 in April and another €2,700 in January.

For the Taoiseach, táinaiste and ministers there were due to be higher increases. as their pay was also restored. The Cabinet is now expected to forego that increase.

Paschal Minister Paschal Donohoe. Source: Rollingnews.ie

Why are people annoyed?

As Donohoe pointed out today, the perception of TDs getting an extra €5,000 or so into their bank accounts – and ministers getting an extra €12,000 – over the next year isn’t great.

Especially when social welfare recipients need to wait until March for €5 extra and the minimum wage has gone up by a total of 10 cent. TDs’ salaries were linked to the civil service in the first place was to increase fairness, Donohoe said yesterday:

We went through an era where there was one deal for ministers and TDs and one rule for everybody else and that’s wrong.

Opposition TDs criticised at the wage restoration in the Dáil. Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked: “Did the cabinet collectively blush when delaying a €5 pension increase but not delaying the increase in TDs’ and Ministers’ pay?”

Writing yesterday in TheJournal.ie, AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy also hit out at the rise.

Read: Why are TDs getting a €5,000 ‘pay rise’?

Read: Noonan defends first-time buyers plan as critics warn it will create ‘bidding war’

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