As most people have, by now, heard, one of the first legislative priorities for the new Government was to pass legislation enabling all three “super junior” ministers to be paid a bit more:
The Dáil has passed laws to increase remuneration for a third ‘super junior’ minister who will now be entitled to an allowance of €16,000 for sitting at Cabinet, on top of the €124,000 salary for serving as Minister of State.
The allowance was described as “obscene” and “nauseating” by the opposition during angry Dáil exchanges.
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said a staff nurse would have to work every day from January up until last Friday in order to get the €16,000 earnings boost to the super junior ministers.
Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers, who is chief whip, Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State for Roads, and Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett, a junior minister in the Department of Agriculture, will now be eligible for the allowance.
Amusingly, this exact same proposal was tabled by Fine Gael in the last Dáil, when they were in Government by themselves, but it was blocked – on the grounds that it was entirely unnecessary. Here’s man of the moment, Thomas Byrne, from back then. The statement is still on the Fianna Fáil website:
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has confirmed that his party will block any attempt by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to introduce salary top-ups for another ‘super junior’ position to cabinet.
Deputy Byrne said, “Taoiseach Varadkar made a mess of his cabinet appointments last Tuesday by attempting to place Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor in a position that simply does not exist. It’s clear that Deputy Mitchell O’Connor forced a showdown with the Taoiseach and he backed down on his attempt to sack her from cabinet.
“Instead, the Taoiseach took the lazy option of attempting to create a new position out of thin air to calm the situation. However in doing so he failed to recognise that a legislative change is needed to fund an additional super-junior position. This sorry saga raises serious questions about how Mr Varadkar intends to organise his government.
“Let me make it clear – Fianna Fáil will vote against any legislative change which attempts to fund an additional super-junior position. Mr Varadkar didn’t think it through and must now deal with the consequences of the mess he created,” concluded Deputy Byrne.
Good stuff – opposing the pay rise, until a Fianna Fáil minister stands to benefit from it. Is it any wonder people are cynical?