JUST AN EXAMPLE?
Have you ever heard of a politician called Jim Daly?
No? Well, Jim was the Proprietor of the Courthouse Bar in Rosscarbery from 1995 to 2001. At a guess, the pub failed but Jim was a qualified primary school teacher and was able to get gainful employment at the Gaelscoil Dr. Uí Shúilleabháin, Skibbereen from 2002 to 2005.
But a qualified primary school teacher only earns €36,890 a year. That’s not a lot for a married man with kids but happily Jim had another string to his bow. He was astute and politically well connected. Fine Gael apparently liked the cut of his jib and he ended up running for office in 2005. Nine years later and our Jim is the ‘Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People.’
Of course, Gaelscoil Dr. Uí Shúilleabháin, Skibbereen must keep Jim’s teaching job open for him and even if he never goes back to it, he could be in line for a teacher’s pension in time. But for now, he’s not doing too badly financially. You see, he’s entitled to a basic salary of €121,639, and that’s just for starters. Then he gets a Public Representative Allowance of a further €16,000. That alone is nearly half his old teacher’s salary. But because he’s from West Cork, his mileage allowance falls into a category that entitles him to a further €29,420 a year. And if that’s not enough, he has an entitlement to a further €30,015 for travel & accommodation. That lot comes to a cool €197,074 in total for Jim, our Junior Minister for Mental Health and Older People.
You’ll never see our Jim on TV or hear him on the radio though. He’ll rarely if ever make any noise in the Dail and aside from Government votes, he may not bother going there that often. All he has to do is keep his nose clean, his mouth shut and lick Leo’s arse whenever possible and he’s in clover for years yet. As well as all of that though, jim is the Chairman of the Clonakilty District Chamber of Tourism, a member Clonakilty District Chamber of Commerce formation committee and a member of Cork County Vocational Educational Committee to boot.
I point all of this out because according to the CSO Yearbook Of Ireland 2016, the average wage in Ireland is €45,075 p.a. for someone working full-time and €16,332 for those on part-time hours. Notice that part-time wage for a full year is about the same as Jim’s annual public representative allowance. So are our politicians overpaid?
Well, not according to Jim himself. I got my figures from the Dail website but Jim has a different spin on things. For example, he claims his basic salary is €87,258, but that is the figure for an ordinary TD living less than 25Km from Leinster House. Jim is miles away in West Cork and is a Junior Minister on a basic salary of €121,639 as I stated above. Then he lists Travel & Subsistence at €36,350 per annum and I don’t know where he gets that figure from. Living between 150 – 180Km from the Dail his actual Travel & Accommodation Allowance is €30,015. But he does mention that he bought a new car and there is the separate mileage allowance of €29,420 for a Junior Minister. That’s just short of ninety grand over three years and you’d finance, tax and insure a damned nice car for that, wouldn’t you. And you’d have a high end three year old car to trade in as well. If his claimed figure for Travel & Subsistence includes his mileage allowance then it actually stands at €59,435 and not his claimed €36,350, and that’s tax free if I’m not much mistaken.
Then Jim lists his Public Representation Allowance as €20,350. That WAS his Public Representation Allowance when he was mere TD. The figure of €16,000 is actually the correct one for his current position. But maybe I’m nit-picking. In his own words Jim says, “I work in excess of eighty hours every week. My take home pay is over €900 per week which equates to just over €10 per hour. Travel & Subsistence is a monthly payment to cover the cost of living away from home during the week. In my case I had to purchase a second car, tax, insure and maintain it to cover over 1,000km’s per week.”
In his favour, Jim says that he did resign his teaching post so no position is waiting for him after politics and somebody else will get a job. He also testifies that, “I did not stand for election for monetary gain.” That may well be so but we have no way of verifying it. What we can verify though is that as a Junior Minister, Jim IS entitled to €197,074 a year if he claims all he can claim and that does not include an “attendance allowance,” that each Dail member gets for just showing up. If he can get his arse into some committee of other he can add several thousands more to that pile. His suggestion that he works 80 yours a week cannot be verified and our Lords and Masters are not paid an hourly rate anyway. The Dáil and Seanad sat for 234 days, (or 1,745 hours), last year. According to my calculations, 1,745 hours converts into 21 full days and nights. At Jim’s rate of 80 working hours a week out of total of 120 hours in any five day week, he spends two-thirds of his time working. So he would do 1,745 hours of work in thirty-one and a half days. What does he do for the other eleven months of the year?
One way or another though, I still ask the question, “Are our politicians overpaid?” Jim the primary school teacher is entitled to €36,890 p.a. and a few short years later as the Junior Minister he’s entitled to €197,074 of tax-payers money. What the figures do not tell us is what skill or talent a primary school teacher possesses that qualifies them to become a Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People. I doubt that Jim Daly is a bad person but is his situation just another example of who you know rather than what you know?