Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Presidential Pay

October 10th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Elections, Irish Politics, Trot for the ARAS 2011

Last week on the Last Word during a review of Vincent Browne’s ‘Big’ Presidential debate, I addressed the issue of Presidential Salaries and my opinion on the futility of questions being asked about the issue during interviews and debates. Kites being flown by various candidates on the matter lead to questions being asked and the discussion going round in circles.

I got three emails (negative) and a few reactions on twitter (positive) so thought I would expand a little further as we have more debates this week and as sure as night follows day the issue will be brought up again.

1) The President has no control over their salary. Yes they can decide to gift it back to the state but they can’t decide what the salary amount should be. It has been reduced already and indeed may be reduced further. The Government decides what it is.

2) This is an election, not an auction. A candidate basing a plank of their manifesto around the carrot that they will do the job for less money may appear appealing in these cynical times but I doubt any of the candidates are in it for the money and the debate around this issue obscures the other matters which could be debated. Doing a job for less money doesn’t mean the decision making whether a TD or the President would improve. Debates which circulate on whether people should do an elected office for less money devalue the role and ownership of the electoral process by the electorate.

3) Politicians deciding that they will only take a certain salary and gift the money to their party or other political causes is an issue which requires much more examination than has happened heretofore. See Faduda for some discussions on the matter of declaring such donations to the Standards in Public Office Commission. My issue is that political parties are already funded by the state in Ireland. I don’t think that politicians should be double funding parties through being required to gift their salary back to the party. If they are going to get involved in this type of ‘solidarity’ then they need to gift the remainder of their salaries back to the state.

I note that Martin McGuinness says the money he would hand back would be used to give jobs to six young people. Firstly I’m wondering why only young people, but more fundamentally there’s the rather significant issue that he can’t tell the government what to do with the salary he would hand back and invariably the IMF or the banks will get it.

4) The Presidency is a significant leadership (albeit mainly ceremonial) role in Irish Life thanks to the efforts and talents of Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. While the salary is high and could be reduced I don’t expect people to do it for 35k a year. The position is not an average job. The office has been sullied enough by the nomination process and campaign to date.



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