Friday’s Irish Times (like all the Irish papers) amounts to an extended scream of political pain. Even in the “grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented” (Charlie Haughey’s phrase, which became an acronym, is cited at least twice) an extra layer of the incredible emerges. As In Paul Cullen’s little piece, Departing Ministers take big hit on pay and perks.
Cullen lists the benefits of a government post:
- the ministerial salary of €181,000, which drops to a TD’s salary for the remainder of this Dáil. That pain is lessened because extended service (as these ex-ministers have) qualifies for the top TD salary of €98,000.
- Ex-minister TDs departing at the March election (which will include an inordinate number from Fianna Fáil) receive a pension in excess of €120,000, plus a “severance package” of over €300,000.
- Of course, there is the loss of the ministerial Mercedes and its two gardaí drivers, along with those flights in the government jet;
- There there is the loss of the personal staff, the two special advisers (up to €190,000 a year each), the PA and the personal secretary. Each and every TD has a secretarial allowance of €41,000.
- Let’s not omit the second home allowance for the pad in Dublin. Cullen discreetly glides over this source of bunce: “there is no information on which politicians are in receipt of this”;
- Finally, all those essential trips on official business: bung in the hotel bill, and let’s not forget the €72.66 per night “subsistence allowance”, which should go some way to covering the bar bill.
Anyone who has sat through the pain and grief of the Westminster expenses scandals finds this, and the lack of transparency, definitely GUBU. When Stephen Collins, also in the Irish Times, does his Analysis for the main comment page he has an anecdote:
Responding to banter about his prospects of promotion one rural TD remarked: “I might have some chance as a humble local TD but if I went back to my constituency in a State car I would be stoned to death.”
One sees why the Taliban are mustering in Ballyhooley.