Updated: 21/10/16 : 07:54:32
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TDs pay hikes will stay linked to civil service rates - Varadkar

The Minister for Social Protection has said TDs' pay will continue to be linked to civil service rates, and has reiterated that the Taoiseach and his ministers will not be taking the restoration due to them.

Leo Varadkar was responding to criticism from the Sinn Féin deputy leader in the Dáil yesterday.

Mary Lou McDonald had objected to what she called the outrageous proposed increases in politicians' pay, urging TDs to back a Sinn Féin bill on the matter.

She said the issue was one of fairness when the Government was telling pensioners they were only worth an extra €5 a week.

In sometimes robust exchanges Mr Varadkar, who was taking Leaders Questions yesterday,  said ministers pay had been cut by 35% but they would not be accepting any restoration as the emergency measures were unwound.

A TDs pay, however, was linked to that of a principal officer and it would be restored along with other public servants.

With Sinn Féin TDs insisting they only take the average industrial wage of €35,000 euro out of their €87,000 salary, Mr Varadkar challenged Ms McDonald to say how much of that was restored to the State.

He also pointed to welfare payments of less than £100 a week in Northern Ireland under a Sinn Féin minister

Ms McDonald said he had not addressed the question and said he should raise the issue of the North’s welfare payments with the Conservative government in London.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil's environment spokesperson Barry Cowen said he will be claiming the restorative pay increment due to TDs in the unwinding of emergency financial legislation.

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation, known as FEMPI, was introduced to allow for public service pay and pension cuts, in the wake of the economic crash.

Earlier this month, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe announced the establishment of a pay commission to discuss how public servants' pay can be restored in an orderly and affordable manner.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Cowen said TDs' pay is assessed by an independent authority and he is happy to be led by its assessment.

TDs will get to keep the €5,400 pay restoration increments unless they voluntarily forgo the repayment.

Deputy Cowen said he will be keeping the money.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said he does not believe it right or fair that TDs' pay is restored.

Mr Cullinane said his party plans to introduce a motion calling on the Government to cancel the restoration and he hopes it will be passed.

He said every Sinn Féin TD will give their increase back to the State, should it come to it.

Róisín Shortall of the Social Democrats said she will be supporting Sinn Féin's motion calling on the Government to cancel the pay restoration for TDs.

Speaking on the same programme, Ms Shortall said it is not the right time to afford pay restoration of €5,400 to TDs.

She said the decision not to accept the proposed restoration of pay should be a collective one taken by the Dáil, rather than a decision to be left up to individual TDs.