Meath West TD Johnny Brady invited a storm of criticism when he made his comments at a meeting of Trim chamber of commerce, prompting opposition parties to declare Fianna Fáil’s plans on political reform “a sham”.
As chairman of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee Mr Brady received an extra €20,000 on top of his €100,000 salary as well as €70,000 in expenses, yet complained he was “no better off” than when he earned £6 and 18p as a councillor in 1974. The Meath News and Sport had reported Mr Brady said every month his wife has to ask him when the next cheque is coming as the bank is running low.
During the question and answer session last Thursday, which was also attended by other candidates in the upcoming election, he said TDs had to run offices having taken about 30% of a pay cut already.
He later said his comments had been taken out of context, while business people said his remarks had gone down like a lead balloon and other election candidates criticised his claims.
Alan Shatter, Fine Gael Justice Spokesman and Dublin South candidate, said: “Yesterday, Micheál Martin refused to give up his €90,000 severance and then Johnny Brady says €100,000 is not enough for Fianna Fáil TDs, once again exposing the sham of Fianna Fáil’s comments on political reform.
“With 440,000 people on the live register and thousands of our most talented people leaving the country every week, it is perverse that an elected member of the party that got us into this situation should whinge about his €100,000 a year salary.
“Fianna Fáil cut the minimum wage and their true attitude to taxpayers has been seen by the Fianna Fáil TD stating that €100,000 is not enough for him,” he said.
Asked to respond to the furore sparked by his initial comments, Mr Brady told The Meath Chronicle: “People imagine that politicians are cleaning up on salaries and expenses. All expenses are vouched for and we have to put in an account for all expenses and this is there for the media or anyone to see,” he said.
Seeking to clarify his comments he said he had a mortgage and needed a good car but denied he had implied at the meeting that he was struggling to survive on his TD’s salary.
He also said it was annoying that people believed politicians entered public life for financial gain, claiming: “it is totally untrue”.