DEPUTIES could soon be expected to pay a €50 entry fee to walk into the Dáil, a TD last night suggested as he ridiculed demands for a further slashing of Oireachtas perks.
Cork North Central deputy Noel O’Flynn made the incendiary remarks as the row over the chaos surrounding whether TDs would be forced to give up bonuses and pensions was set to dominate the start of the new Dáil term.
Mr O’Flynn insisted he would not surrender his €6,000 a year long-service increment for being in the Dáil for seven years unless the rest of the public service was forced to give up similar perks.
“What does the media and the public expect? Do they want TDs to go into the door of Dáil Éireann and put money into a turnstyle to get in for membership? And even if we put e50 into the slot going in is our value still diminished, or do we have a value or not?
“We have given — I have given — I’ll give more if I have to give more, but it must be fair across the board,” he told RTÉ.
The Fianna Fáil TD said he had taken an 8.8% pension levy, 4% income levy and a 50% cut in his allowance for being a committee chairman, but suggested further cuts would threaten democracy itself.
“What price are we prepared to pay for democracy? Do we want to have a democracy, do we want to have public representation or do we want to fold up the camp now and finish it?”
Mr O’Flynn added that some TDs elected in 2007 “had put their careers on hold” to stand for the Dáil and had entered the Oireachtas when pay and perks were much higher.
His remarks are bound to be seized on by opposition leaders keen to exploit Government confusion over Budget measures which were intended to cut back on TDs financial perks.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has been on the back foot since it emerged the generous pensions — some totalling e150,000 a year — given to ex-ministers still in the Dáil will not be stopped, despite his Budget statement that they would.
The Government has also been in a state of dither over the long- service increments, which are also paid to senior civil servants. After saying the cuts would not be applied retrospectively, ministers indicated legal advice was being taken to see if this could happen, before another U-turn was enacted and they appeared to be staying.
Another key test of Government competence comes with the reduction of junior ministerial posts from 20 to 15, which will need to see a review of all portfolios left to give the move credibility after it emerged it would not save as much cash as hoped as the five or more sacked juniors will each get compensation payments of e53,000.
Elderly Persons Minister Maire Hoctor crossed her fingers as she said she had not lobbied the Taoiseach to keep her job, but was hoping for the best.
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