€16,000 pay rise for 'super junior' ministers gets Dáil approval

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.

Two junior ministers or ministers of state are entitled to receive an annual allowance of €16,888 on top of their €124,439 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.

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.

“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 Fáil, opposed such an increase in the last Dáil.

He said: “I don’t recall it being discussed is the straight answer and it was never put before the Oireachtas.”

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.”

Sinn Féin 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.

“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.”