The public are being told to “suck up the austerity”, while senior politicians take home six-figure salaries, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.
She questioned why Taoiseach Enda Kenny was “taking home” €200,000 a year and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore €184,405.
But Mr Gilmore, responding for the Government in the Dail, said there was a different between gross pay and net pay.
“The Taoiseach does not take home €200,000 . . . There is a difference between gross pay and take home pay.”
Mr Gilmore said the Government’s first decision in office had been to cut the pay of politicians. Since then, the Government had also addressed the cost of ministerial transport and TDs’ expenses, he added.
But Ms McDonald said it was wrong that the “political class” continued to enjoy lavish salaries and perks while 436,000 people were out of work and the Government was imposing household and other charges.
She said the Tánaiste appeared to be telling people: “too bad, things are tough, suck up the austerity, but we are okay, Jack”.
Her comments came on the back of remarks made by a senator from Mr Gilmore’s own party.
Labour’s John Gilroy questioned in the Seanad why TDs earned approximately €27,000 more a year than senators.
If TDs really wanted to save public money, they should cut their own salaries rather than seek to abolish the Seanad, he suggested.
“The public would consider senators and deputies to do primarily the same work in the constituencies. In future, when we hear Government backbenchers (TDs) calling for the abolition of the (Seanad), I suggest they first reflect on reforming their own house. They can then come back to us and give us the argument and, perhaps, we will listen to them.”
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