The Minister for Public Expenditure has defended the decision to increase the salary of a “super junior” minister in Cabinet by more than 16,000 euro.
Two junior ministers or ministers of state are entitled to receive an annual allowance of 16,888 euro on top of their 124,439 euro salary.
The current Government has three super junior ministers – minister of state for climate and transport Hildegarde Naughton, Government chief whip Jack Chambers and minister of state for agriculture Pippa Hackett.
I would not like to see a situation where one of three of the ministers does not get the same payment - they should be treated equallyMichael McGrath
Michael McGrath said the Cabinet agreed unanimously this week that the third minister of state in the the new Government should also be entitled to such an increase.
He said: “There was an issue of having three ministers of state at the Cabinet table with same level of responsibility.
“The legal position is that two of them get extra money but not the three.
“We are in a situation now where we have three ministers of state attending Cabinet, two will get the allowance.
“I personally think it is fair that the three will be treated equally and given that the allowance is there for two, I think it should be given to the three.
“That is a view that is shared across Government and by the three party leaders and unanimously approved by Government.”
Mr McGrath said he was unaware that his own party, Fianna Fail, opposed such an increase in the last Dail.
He said: “I don’t recall it being discussed is the straight answer and it was never put before the Oireachtas.”
“I think it is proper and appropriate that it be dealt with and I would not like to see a situation where one of three of the ministers does not get the same payment – they should be treated equally.”
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the increase should go ahead in the interest of fairness as junior ministers in the previous Government were on different pay scales.
He said: “We did end up in a situation where a number of ministers were treated very differently and I do believe that it is appropriate that an amendment be put forward this afternoon – which I support – because the three ministers of state who are now going to be members of this Government have equal responsibilities.
“The Government is looking to make a change where they will be treated the same way … in the last Government we were dealing with a situation where there was a variety of different opinion.
“I made the decision as the Minister for Public Expenditure at the time that a change would be required and I support that happening now.”
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty criticised the decision and said it was unfair to frontline workers who will receive no pay increase.
He said: “We have seen posts from frontline workers asking if super junior ministers not just accept a clap instead.
People Before Profit TD @RBoydBarrett gives a sarcastic round of applause in the DÃ¡il to the three 'Super Junior' ministers and asks if they will accept it instead of a â¬16,000 pay rise that the Government has denied to front line workers.— Ãine McMahon (@AineMcMahon) July 24, 2020
“For all the deputies who are going to vote for this increase when they are already on more than one hundred thousand euro, just think about what our frontline workers have done over the course of the pandemic.
“Think of the staff nurse who is on basic pay and would have had to work every single day up until last Friday to get the equivalent amount that you’re going to increase super junior ministers salaries to, this week.”
Mr Doherty suggested ministers, TDs and senators should have their pay cut.
He said: “It is absolutely sickening – ministers will give them all the claps and all the plaudits and nice words, but think of the staff nurse who had to go into hospitals… I think it is obscene and I think it is wrong.”