LONG-SERVING TDs will get to keep their controversial bonus payments despite a budget day promise to abolish them, Taoiseach Brian Cowen confirmed yesterday.
Just days after saying the Government would seek legal advice on whether sitting TDs could be stripped of the payments, Mr Cowen appeared to admit defeat on the issue in what was seen as a bid to placate his backbenchers.
TDs serving 10 years or more in the Dáil receive an annual increment of €6,400 on top of their basic pay of €100,000. Those with between seven and 10 years’ service qualify for an increment of €3,200.
In the budget, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said: “Deputies will no longer receive long-service payments or increments.”
But controversy arose when it emerged last week that the 72 sitting TDs already in receipt of increments would not be stripped of them.
Only TDs set to qualify for the increments in the future, or those newly elected to the next Dáil, would be affected by the move, the Department of Finance confirmed.
Then, to contain the damage, Mr Cowen said last Thursday the Government was seeking legal advice to see if the Budget Day decision could be applied to the sitting TDs.
But in a U-turn yesterday, Mr Cowen said sitting TDs would keep their payments — and denied the Government’s approach had caused confusion.
“There is no intention for anyone to get the wrong impression. Basically [Mr Lenihan] said there are issues here that won’t be available for the future — that’s the way it’s going to be,” Mr Cowen said.
“And obviously the detail of the legislation now has to be worked out in line with existing entitlements and rights.”
Mr Cowen’s coalition partner, Green Party leader John Gormley, resorted last night to asking TDs to surrender the increments and pensions voluntarily.
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