Dáil has sat just twice since the election but TDs get paid €1.2m

Thousands have been paid out to ministers who failed to get re-elected, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

The country’s 158 TDs have earned over €1.2m in salaries since the general election — despite a failure by all of the parties to form a government and the fact the Dáil has sat just twice in more than a month.

Oireachtas and Department of Public Expenditure officials have confirmed the sum has been paid out since February 26 as all politicians are entitled to their full salary and any ministerial add-ons despite the Dáil stalemate — even those who remain in office despite not being re-elected.

Under the current payments system, backbench TDs receive a basic salary of €87,258 a year, a rate that averages out at €7,271.50 per month for members.

Ministers and ministers of state receive €70,000 and €34,000, respectively, on top of this basic TD pay — amounting to €5,833 and €2,833 extra per month.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton receive a total of €185,000 and €171,000 each for their roles.

While the salaries were reduced in 2013 under the government — with TDs told in 2013 they would be paid €5,414 less; ministers by €6,000; and junior ministers by €3,241 — the total payouts mean our 158 TDs have earned over €1.23m since the general election vote on February 26.

An Oireachtas spokesman confirmed that while a legal stipulation meant that TDs were only paid some of their salary from the early February dissolution of the Dáil until the election date, all TDs have been paid their basic salaries since the general election took place.

However, he noted the basic €87,258 pay — which amounts to €7,271.50 a month per TD — is before tax, the universal social charge, pension levy, and pension contribution.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform also confirmed that all ministers and junior ministers are in receipt of their additional top-up payments, although those who have not been re-elected and are only remaining in office until the next government is formed receive their ministerial payments but not their TD salaries.

Since the general election on February 26, over €1.148m has been paid to the 158 TDs elected to the current Dáil, with a further €81,666 and €42,500 spent on minister and junior minister top-up payments.

Of this figure, two ministers who remain in their positions despite not being re-elected, Children’s Minister James Reilly and Communications Minister Alex White, have been paid a combined €11,666 since the general election.

In addition, seven ministers of state who have not been re-elected to the Dáil — including Ged Nash, Jimmy Deenihan, Kathleen Lynch, Paudie Coffey, Kevin Humphreys, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, and Ann Phelan — have been paid a combined €19,833 over the past month.

The cost of this ‘shadow’ Dáil, which has sat just twice in 34 days and is likely to only meet once more, next Wednesday, comes as vital state services plea for politicians to ensure they receive enough funding.

At its annual conference in Killarney, Co Kerry, this week, the general secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, John MacGabhann, claimed young teachers are being treated “like galley slaves” because they are earning around €30,000 a year.

At a conference attended by Environment Minister Alan Kelly yesterday, housing and homeless charities urged all available resources to be made available to address the ongoing scandals.

While Sinn Féin and the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TDs only take the average industrial wage out of their TD salary, the remainder is not returned to the exchequer and is instead used to fund the parties or help campaigns they support.

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