Ministers have defended a €16,000 pay rise for a so-called ‘super’ junior minister on the basis that members of Government at that level should be “treated equally”.
Public expenditure minister Michael McGrath defended the Cabinet decision after it came under fire from Opposition TDs in the Dáil.
There are three super junior ministers who sit at Cabinet in the coalition, who have a lesser role than senior ministers, but still attend the Government meetings.
Under former legislation, a top-up of €16,000 was only available for two ‘super’ junior ministers, bringing their salary up to €140,000. But the new Government has moved to ensure a third also gets the extra pay.
The move was not announced by the Government or made publicly known, despite it being agreed at a late-night Cabinet meeting earlier this week.
Legislation to implement the pay top up for the junior minister was approved in a Dail vote yesterday.
Asked about the pay increase, Mr McGrath confirmed that two were paid the top-up, but that it was a “general view” across the three-party coalition that the third minister should be “treated equally”.
But Mr McGrath faced questions about why his party, Fianna Fáil, during the last Government’s term, opposed similar top-ups to junior ministers — an issue the party pledged to block. Mr McGrath said he did not remember his party blocking the change.
Finance minister Paschal Donohoe said, during the last Government’s term, that he had dealt with the consequences of “not having a change of law” to give other super junior ministers top-ups, and that some ministers had been “treated very differently”.
Arts minister Catherine Martin said that junior ministers should be “treated equally”.
However, the move was criticised in the Dáil, with Rise TD Paul Murphy claiming that the public are “disgusted” by the decision.
Why is the government pushing through a €16,000 raise for some Junior Ministers? Instead we should be cutting politicans' wages to a workers wage. https://t.co/zjYVicyunG— Paul Murphy 🏳️⚧️ (@paulmurphy_TD) July 24, 2020
The extra €16,000 for a junior minister already on €124,000 is a “scandalous inclusion” in legislation, he said. It also is happening at a time when one in four people are unemployed, at “a time of a great crisis”.
Mr Murphy added: “It is outrageous, mind-boggling, to people out there who see ... the unfolding economic depression.”