Perfect timing, Mr Lenihan…

While the Irish economy is in meltdown, unemployment is going through the roof and millions of Irish homeowners find themselves in the very worst level of negative equity possible, Ireland’s Finance Minister finds himself defending pay rises for his fellow politicians.

Is he for real?

Unfortunately, yes. Lenihan and his ilk are seemingly so out of touch with the Irish voter that they think it’s acceptable to award pay rises to TDs (members of the Irish Parliament) while the rest of the country wonders if it will end up bankrupt and looking to the IMF for a bailout.

The average Irish employee will have been told in no uncertain terms that there will be no pay rises this year, bonuses are a thing of the past and that they’re lucky to have a job at all. Yet TDs have managed to peg their salaries to a standard Civil Service scale and attempt to justify an extra 3,000 euro a year. 

It’s disgusting. 

Nobody in the Civil Service, least of all TDs, should be getting a pay rise this year. Brian Cowen himself has said repeatedly it’s a time for belt-tightening and making sacrifices for the collective good. Which incidentally reminds me of a certain Charles J. Haughey’s announcements to the same tune in the 1980s, while he himself lived a millionaire lifestyle, raising two fingers to the Irish people as only he could. 

Ireland’s politicians should start tightening their own belts before asking it of others. Pay rises now are a slap in the face to everyone who is materially worse off due to the present financial crisis.

Of course, the cynic in me thinks that these pay increases have been publicised now so that they can be revoked in April’s planned mini-budget, making the Government look fiscally responsible. We’ll see how this pans out…

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