Letter in today’s Irish Examiner.
Politicians must lead by example
The country is bankrupt with an annual deficit of €15bn, which means we need to borrow €300m a week just to keep the country going.
This Government has forced austerity, emigration and unfair levies/charges on the nation.
We have €3.8bn of new taxes and cuts to services in 2012 and similar measures will initiated up to 2015.
Then we will probably need a second bailout and the cycle of austerity and hardship will begin again.
Fine Gael and Labour have reneged on their manifestos and promises to the Irish electorate by caving in to bondholders and German brinkmanship.
Instead they gone for easy options, ie, cutbacks on fuel allowances for elderly, reduced support to disadvantaged schools and community work schemes, decreased allowances to young disabled people, etc.
They have adopted a code of silence on the emigration crisis which has seen 76,000 emigrate in the past year.
The Irish people and taxpayer are paying through levies and universal social charges for the bailout which has evaporated into our failed banking system and Nama.
Currently 450,000 are unemployed, tens of thousands are in mortgage arrears or negative equity, 1,500 people emigrating weekly, business close daily, citizens’ electricity has been cut off, and people still lie on trolleys in the corridors of our hospitals.
While the country is engulfed with austerity and hopelessness, the lifestyles of our politicians and their exorbitant wages and allowances have remained almost untouched.
The Taoiseach gets €200,000 and up to €118,000 in expenses and allowances (a total of €318,000); Mr Kenny earns 20% more than the British prime minister and gets 8.9 times the average industrial wage.
The Tánaiste gets €184,000 and up to €120,000 in expenses and allowances, a total of €304,000. Mr Gilmore earns 9% more than the deputy PM in Britain and his allowances are greater than the annual wage of President Hollande of France.
The French president and his ministers took a 30% wage cut when taking up office. Cabinet ministers get €169,000 and up to €120,000 in allowances and expenses, a total of €289,000.
Junior ministers €get 130,042, TDs get €93,000, and senators €65,521.
All these can claim annual vouched and unvouched expenses of €50,000 plus.
TDs earn 21% more than British MPs and 8.1 times the average industrial wage.
Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan took a voluntary 15% pay cut in 2011 and a further cut of €63,324 in 2012.
The political fraternity should follow his example.