Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín is today tabling a new Bill seeking to impose a 25% pay cut for TDs and Seanadóirí while the country is in into lockdown. 

“If we are really ‘all in this together’ shouldn’t TDs show solidarity with the hundreds of thousands who have had their income gutted?” the Meath West TD said. Deputy Tóibín is calling for all parties to support this bill.

“Businesses such as Pubs, Shops Cafes and Restaurants are forced to closed due to Covid Restrictions. The government has repeated the mantra that “we are all in this together”, but that is patently not true? There is very little sign of solidarity. Many within the political class in Ireland have lauded the government of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern during Covid. Yet few have sought to follow her example of taking a pay cut during to prove solidarity with those most in need,” he said.

The Aontú leader was sharply critical of recent pay rises for TDs even as hundreds of thousands of people remained unemployed due to the lockdown – and he pointed to the controversial move to raise the salary of the Secretary General of the Department of Health to €290,000.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been made unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of workers and businesses have had their ability to earn a salary deleted. They have had their income radically reduced. Many have been pushed into poverty. Yet at the same time TDs are receiving pay rises. Judges are receiving pay rises. Today I will attend the Finance Committee where the FF Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath  will defend a  €90,000 per year pay rise for the post of secretary general of the Department of Health bringing the salary to €290,000 a year. The contrast between the two Irelands could not be starker. The chasm that exists between the people and the elected representatives has never been as wide,” he added.

“The Budget Deficit for last year is expected to be €19 billion. Our National Debt  will rise by €35 billion, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to €239 billion. This works out at €47,700 per person. Ireland is already an extremely heavily indebted country which radically exposes us to future shocks. When this crisis subsides as a country the Budget Deficit will have to be reduced. My worry is that FF and FG will do what they always do and reduce it with massive cuts in public service spending such as Health and increase taxes on low and middle income earners. Without a change in government we may well be looking at a number of years of austerity in the near future.  In the last economic crash, there was a logical downward pressure on the incomes of elected reps in line with the rest of society. But on this occasion, politicians salaries are actually going in the opposite direction to hundreds of thousands of people. While the savings to the state in this proposed salary cut may not be large its really important that everyone, including TDs pays their share of the cost of getting Ireland back on its feet”.

“There is also the question of governance. How can politicians represent the people properly if they cannot relate to their lives? It’s clear that the government do not know what is like for families right around the country. Making decisions for so many people and being immune to the consequences of those decisions does not make for good governance. If politicians don’t share in the cost of those decisions, they are blind to the real experience of so many people,” said Deputy Tóibín.