Gallagher rules out voluntary Áras pay cut

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful, Seán Gallagher, said he will not be offering to take a cut in the salary for the position if he is successful in his bid for the Áras.

Instead, he said, it’s up to the Taoiseach to decide what salary should be paid to the President and he would accept whatever is decided by Government.

The Cavan businessman was announcing measures he believes could save the taxpayers millions in the expensive presidential campaign.

But he refused to criticise Fianna Fáil — the party he was once a member of — for overseeing a waste of public money.

“That’s a matter for the party itself. I’m standing very much as an Independent candidate,” he said.

The Dragon’s Den star has proposed saving the taxpayer up to €10 million by calling for all presidential candidates to appear on one single campaign leaflet per voter, instead of each candidate distributing a leaflet.

He claimed the cost of sending leaflets to each voter for up to seven candidates would be €11.63m, but one leaflet would cost €1.66m.

“I have consistently said that I want to run my campaign as cost-effectively as possible,” he said.

“I believe that spending vast amounts of money at a time when families and communities are really struggling is obscene.

“This is just one measure, but I am hopeful that it will help to make a positive difference,” said the Cavan native.

He has written to Environment Minister Phil Hogan setting out his proposal and called for other candidates to consider it.

But when asked about the salary, he refused to join with the other Independent presidential hopeful, Mary Davis, in calling for a cut.

The President receives a total pay package worth €700,000, including a basic salary of €293,358, an annual allowance of €417,434 and pension entitlements.

Although President Mary McAleese has taken a voluntary cut, there are no plans in place to impose a mandatory reduction for whoever will succeed her after October’s election.

Asked if he would offer to take a lower wage, Mr Gallagher said: “I would leave the salary to the Government, whatever they decide that to be.”

He said: “The Government sets the salary. I’m not stepping forward to seek to take this role on for myself or for a salary. I’m seeking to do it for Ireland.”

The Independent candidate said there was a danger that if he did this, others who were independently wealthy could offer to do the job for free and “that belittles the office.”

Mr Gallagher has received motions of support from five county councils — Longford, Donegal, Clare, Leitrim and Roscommon — to run.

He will need the support of four councils to be formally declared a candidate in September.


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