Monday, January 19, 2009

Irish Political Gravy Train

With hundreds of thousands of workers facing the prospects of pay cuts and job losses, Ireland’s politicians should look at their own perks and payments before dictating to the rest of the country.

Let’s have a look at what your local TDs gets paid – as well as the tens of thousands of euro they get TAX FREE every year in expenses and allowances.


POLITICIANS’ SALARIES:

Since October 2001, Ireland’s TDs and Senators pocketed a whopping 15 pay rises to almost double their bounty every year – and this is without the extravagant expenses and allowances they claim.

Back in October 2001, a first-time TD was earning a basic salary of €65,592 a year – a handsome amount for the time.

But thanks to the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, Social Partnership, Towards 2016 and benchmarking, they have seen their basic salaries rise by 53% to a staggering €100,191 a year.

For TDs with three years service or more, they saw their salaries rise by the same percentage from €67,685 to €103,389 and those with six years service or more saw their pay pocket bulge from €69,777 to €106,582.

Senators have also seen their salaries rise over the past seven years but by a larger degree – 60%.

Back in 2001, a new Senator was earning €43,824 a year but this has shot up to €70,134 a year. A Senator with three years service now gets €72,371 (up from €45,223) and a Senator with more than six years service now gets €74,608 (up from €46,621).

And if this wasn’t enough, when it comes to office holders such as the Taoiseach, Tanaiste, Ministers and Ministers of State, they have also seen their salaries increase phenomenally.

Back in 2001, the Taoiseach was paid €126,141 on top of his TDs salary bringing his total salary to €191,733. By 2008 this had rocketed by 47% to €185,392 on top of his TDs wages bringing his total salary to €285,583.

The Tanaiste has also experienced a significant pay hike – from a total of €164,595 in 2001 to €245,325 in 2008.

Ministers and the Ceann Comhairle get an extra €125,005 on top of their TDs salaries (up from €86,178 in 2001) and the Attorney General has seen his pay rise by 48% from €151,770 in 2001 to €225,196.

Junior Ministers pay has increased by 43% over the past seven years – from €38,137 on top of their TD’s salary in 2001 to €54,549 in 2008.

Payments for the Leas Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach, Leas Cathaoirleach and Leader of the Seanad have also increased by over 40% in the past seven years to €54,549, €49,255, €27,112 and €21,525 on top of their TDs/Senators salary respectively.



POLITICIANS’ ALLOWANCES:

The six-figure sums that our politicians are earning are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the gravy train they are riding on.

Allowances and expenses – all TAX FREE – have the same effect of almost trebling a politicians’ salary.

• ‘WALKING AROUND MONEY’: Each TD is entitled to what is terms ‘walking around’ money of €5,482.73 a year. This is supposed to cover expenses that other allowances don’t cover. Politicians do not have to supply any receipts for this and are free to use it however they wish. In the case of Ministers, they yet in excess of €13,000 a year in ‘walking around money’..

• TELEPHONE: Each TD gets €6,384.69 a year to pay for the telephone in their constituency office. If they are a Committee Chairperson or a Whip, they get an extra €1,269.74 a year – UNTAXED. Within Leinster House, they are entitled to free phone calls.


• MOBILE PHONES – A special scheme exists for TDs so they can buy their mobile phone and car-kit directly from their local dealer and they are reimbursed the total cost of the equipment. The reimbursement is on a vouched basis in respect of the equipment and a further €250 is paid to cover insurance, maintenance and miscellaneous expenses (not exceeding €770 every 18 months).

• POSTAL FACILITIES: Each TD is entitled to 1,750 paid envelopes every month. There is an additional postal allowance for Dail party whips and Seanad group whips.


• CONSTITUENCY OFFICE MAINTENANCE: TDs can claim €8,888.17 every year for the upkeep of their constituency offices. This allowance, again UNTAXED, is supposed to cover rent, rates, electricity, heating, purchase of office equipment, cleaning and insurance.

• CONSTITUENCY OFFICE GRANT: Each TD can claim a once-off Constituency Establishment Grant of €8,888.17 when setting up an office.

• SPECIAL SECRETARIAL ALLOWANCE: TDs are entitled to €8,888.17 every year in respect of expenses arising from the engagements of additional secretarial assistance.

• OVERNIGHT ALLOWANCES: Yet another unvouched allowance for TDs. The current overnight allowance is €139.67 and TDs who live more than 15 miles from Leinster House can claim it in respect of the preceding night while attending the Dail, Seanad or Committee. The TDs can also claim it on any day the Dail, Seanad or Committee sits irrespective of adjournment time. So if the Dail adjourns at 2pm on a Thursday, the TDs can still claim an overnight despite there being ample time to return to their constituencies. They are also entitled to claim this allowance if they travel to Leinster House for a meeting or if they simply have to travel to Leinster House to use its facilities.

• TRAVEL TO LEINSTER HOUSE: If a TD lives within 15 miles of Leinster House, they are entitled to a ‘Daily Allowance’ of €61.53. If they further than 15 miles, they have a choice – claim the ‘Daily Allowance’ or claim an overnight allowance and civil service mileage of €1.16 per mile for the first 4,000 miles and 54c a mile for each mile over that level. TDs can also claim full mileage even if they use public transport to travel to Leinster House.

• CONSTITUENCY TRAVEL: In addition to travel and overnight allowances, TDs also benefit from a Constituency Travel Allowance to cover travel within their constituencies. There are three rates of allowances available depending on the size of the TD’s constituency - €2,745, €5,480 or €8,782.

• INDEPENDENT ALLOWANCE: Independent TDs are entitled to a TAX-FREE payment of €41,152 on top of their salaries, expenses and allowances just because they are not members of a political party.

• If a TD is appointed the Chair of an Oireachtas committee, he/she gets an extra €20,023 and the vice-chair gets €10,241. The chair and whips of the five subcommittees receive €6,380 a year. This payment is taxable.





EARNING POTENTIAL OF A TD:

Take Joe Bloggs. He has been a TD for a constituency based 100 miles away from Dublin for the past ten years. He is representative of a large number of TDs in Leinster House at the moment.

Considering that Joe Bloggs spends 100 nights in Dublin and travels to the capital once a week for 30 weeks, lets see what he can expect to rake in in a single year.


SALARY - €106,582 (as he has more than six years service, he is entitled to this higher rate)
COMMITTEE CHAIR PAYMENT - €20,023

WALKING AROUND MONEY - €5,489 TAX FREE
CONSTITUENCY TRAVEL - €5,489 TAX FREE
CONSTITUENCY OFFICE GRANT - €8,888.17 TAX FREE
CONSTITUENCY OFFICE MAINTENANCE - €8,888.17 TAX FREE
CONSTITUENCY TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE - €6,348.69 TAX FREE
SPECIAL SECRETARIAL ALLOWANCE - €8,888.17 TAX FREE
OVERNIGHT ALLOWANCE - €139.67 x 100 = €13,967 TAX FREE
MILEAGE – 200 miles a week for 30 weeks = 6,000 miles. 4,000@€1.16 and 2,000@54c = €5,720 TAX FREE.

TOTAL EXTRAS: €63,678.20 TAX FREE

TOTAL SALARY INCLUDING ALLOWANCES AND EXPENSES - €170,283.

2 comments:

michael said...

What about Councillors, is their salary/allowances closer to minimum pay than the others mentioned? I ask because there are hundreds of them.

Peter said...

In relation to these figures for our TD's & Senator's pay, there is no words in the English Dictionary or any other Dictionary that make it right, the way that we as a Nation are being treated by those individuals. It is wrong in every way possible, that they assume that they are entitled to such remuneration for doing the job of their own choice, a job that I could do for 50% of what they are getting and still be well off.

I understand that if they incur a cost while doing that job, they get money paid back to them,that is acceptable and normal, not downright blatant expenses for the sake of it.

As a Nation we should be ashamed of what we have let them do to us and are doing on a daily basis.

The alarm is ringing & ringing, who will turn it off ???.