Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has described the increase in wages for TDs as “tone deaf” at a time when the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was being reduced.
Nobody was suggesting that the wages of TDs should be “cut to the bone” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, but what they were paid was still “a crazy amount”.
Mr Doherty said that “at the bare minimum” TDs being paid over €90,000 should not get an increase.
The cut to PUP this week would mean great financial hardship for many people and could mean that many would go into mortgage distress, he warned.
For the cuts to come at a time when the wages of TDs were being increased and 10 special advisers, on a salary of €67,000 each, were being appointed was tone deaf, he said.
Mr Doherty said that Sinn Féin was not saying that there shouldn’t be special advisers, but that there did not need to be so many.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said this morning that the number of advisors being hired by the government represents how "out of touch" it is.
"I think what has raised eyebrows, in terms of this government is the number of advisors so we know for example that between the three party leaders, alone they have 17 advisors, and that's before you count media people. That to me is excessive," said Ms McDonald.
"Good advice is necessary, but also so is value for money."
Former Independent TD and Junior Minister John Halligan said that at this particular time, given the situation of the economy and with people suffering job losses, he thought it would have been better if TDs and Ministers did not take the rise in wages.
However, he said he thought TDs earned the money they get because they work seven days a week and the life span of the job could be short.
Mr Halligan added that when he had been a Junior Minister he had one special adviser which he found absolutely necessary to assist with the portfolio, but he did not see the need for some Ministers to have five advisers.
It was tone deaf to appoint so many advisers, said former Fianna Fáil Government adviser Derek Mooney, but he said that while it was easy to say to cut the pay of TDs it would be difficult to do that.
At a time when the Government required public buy-in with regard to Covid restrictions, it was difficult for the public to accept the Government saying “we’re all in this together” when they behaved like this.
The decision to appoint so many special advisers and to increase wages for TDs when the PUP was cut was “ill informed and tone deaf” he said.