HAVING been reduced to tears by the Taoiseach’s famous interview with Brian Dobson on RTÉ news last year, I pity Bertie Ahern having to exist on a mere €310,000 annual salary (plus expenses, driver, jet, make-up, etc) which he has been forced to accept.
I feel like organising a whip-around, a dig-out and a soft loan for him. And I will be rushing to accept his oh-so-credible advice on wage restraint, just as we all did with Charlie Haughey’s similar advice 20 years ago. In response to Ahern’s invitation to put other leaders’ arrangements up front, here goes:
€279,000: US President George Bush
€270,000: Tánaiste Brian Cowen
€268,000: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
€261,000: German Prime Minister Angela Merkel
€240,000: Irish cabinet ministers
€240,000: French Prime Minister Francois Fillon
€210,000: Australian Prime Minister John Howard
€192,000: Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
€123,000: Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
€122,000: Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Norway has same population as Ireland).
€49,500: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The same ‘independent’ process that so deservedly rewarded our leaders also determined that the chief executive of the HSE, Prof Brendan Drumm, was currently being overpaid to the tune of €57,000 per annum when compared to an equivalent position in the private sector. (Luckily that one isn’t mandatory.). And those greedy foreign leaders have prolonged holidays, unlike Mr Ahern, who spends a massive 1.5 days in the Dáil for almost 20 weeks each year. Most of the rest of the time he has to undertake onerous tasks like opening pubs, off-licences and private hospitals (never mind that old "centres of excellence" nonsense).