I was listening to Sarah McInerney the other morning.
She and her guests were talking about the surprise election of Catherine Connolly as Leas Ceann Comhairle.
It had been expected that Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd would win comfortably. And if all government TDs, from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens had backed him, he would have.
There was unbridled glee among the opposition.
Sinn Féin’s Eoin O Broin (does he actually have an apartment in RTE or what? If he’s not on radio he’s on television.) was enjoying it.
“Fergus O’Dowd has missed the opportunity to take on an important role in the Dáil which ensures that proceedings are fair.”
Is that what he said?
No. This “socialist” said: Fergus O’Dowd has missed out on €40,000.”
What does that tell you?
The basic salary of a TD is €96,189. (The myth of Shinners giving the bulk of that to the party was blown by Dessie Ellis who, it was revealed, kept the lot. Probably under his bed where he used to keep his bombs.)
The Taoiseach is paid €207,490, the Tánaiste €191,403, Ministers €148,699 – and that’s before allowances and perks.
The chief whips also get their TD’s salaries topped up. The Assistant Government Whip gets an extra 15,000, the Fianna Fáil party whip €19,000, Sinn Féin whip €10,000 and so on all the way down to the Independets 4 change, social democrats, Greens and so on who pick up €8,000 each. That’s on top of the €96,189.
I’m not finished yet.
Chairpersons of committees get €9,500 extra.
TDs also get allowances for travel. Really. The rest of us can’t even claim tax back on the cost of travelling to work. But TDs get cash back.
How much? Well, in addition to getting his car repaired at public expense (“I sometimes have to drive in from Dun Laoghaire twice a day,” said Rich Boy Barrett for whom, clearly, mixing with ordinary people on the DART or on a bus is out of the question) claimed €1,855.46 in February. That’s on top of salary.
Matt Carthy stuck €3,098.65 in his pocket, the Healy-Raes €3,397.67 each.
Willie O’Dea €3,205.17, Eamon Ö Cuiv €3,269.33, Michael Lowry €3,183.99, Alan Kelly €3,205.17 … and every Fine Gael minister (with the exception of Michael Ring), up to and including then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar €1,011.49. Michael Ring claimed just €455.17.
I’m not just picking on those I’ve named. They’re just exampled. Indeed, Ivana Bacik is the only one in Leinster House these days not claiming expenses.
So is that all the poor souls get for their hard work?
TDs get free parking for life in the Dáil complex, gym membership, subsidised food and drink in the Dáil bar, €8,000 towards setting up a constituency office, ‘phone bills paid and €750 every 18 months for a new mobile ‘phone.
It goes on and on. And of course it will – as long as TDs get to vote on their own pay and conditions. Even the leftiest of the lefties has no problem screwing the system (that’s us, by the way, we fund it) when it comes to lining their own pockets.
We’ll be told that you have to pay well to attract the best people.
That worked well with the banks back in the early part of this century, didn’t it? It was people on several million a year who led us like sheep to the slaughter into the Great Recession of 2008.
So I have a suggestion.
Why could we not have a committee of trusted, reliable, honest people from outside the Dáil who might decide on the pay of conditions for those inside.
Here’s my suggestion for such a committee.
St Stanislaus Kennedy of Focus Ireland
Fr Peter McVerry of the Peter McVerry Trust
Alice Leahy of the Alice Leahy Trust
Kieron Stafford of the Vincent de Paul
Paula Byrne of Merchant’s Quay
Do you think TDs would be getting €750 every 18 months for a new ‘phone if that little committee determined their remuneration and allowances?