Two-tier pay at Cabinet table is here to stay

A TWO-TIER pay system for ministers at the Cabinet table is to remain in place for the lifetime of this Government.

Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Chief Whip Joe McHugh will miss out on €16,000 a year after a decision not to risk putting a salary hike to a Dáil vote.

It comes as a result of a decision to appoint more than the two ‘super junior ministers’ permitted under law.

Education Minister Richard Bruton, who is under pressure to equalise the pay of younger teachers with their older counterparts, said the issue is “not a priority” for the Government.

“The Government has a lot of pressures to meet. We have problems in housing, in health, in education.

“We have a great ambition to expand in those areas. So we have made a decision that it is not a priority to increase the pay of certain ministers,” he said.

The controversy also means Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty (right) will have €1,000 a month docked from her wages until she reimburses almost €16,000 to the State that she received during her time as chief whip.

However, Ms Doherty told the Irish Independent she is “not annoyed” with the Department of Public Expenditure, which overlooked the relevant section of legislation when the payment was introduced after the last election.

“You know what, they made a mistake. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world,” she said.

Last month, Ms Mitchell O’Connor said: “Everybody that does the same job deserves the same pay.”

However, her senior minister Mr Burton said yesterday the minister is happy to continue working on a substandard pay rate. “Mary has said herself on repeated occasions that it’s not the money that motivates her. I think her work in higher education is ample testament to her commitment. “The Government has made a decision and she has accepted that decision.”

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