Needy left behind while TD Gravy Train rolled on

As public servant salaries come into focus with Labour’s proposed cap of €190,000, Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has contrasted exorbitant TD salaries with meagre rises in welfare payments in the past two decades. Calling on all TDs to vote against any reduction in welfare rates in Budget 2011, SJI has shown that the take-home pay of TDs rose by €980 a week since 1986 while unemployment benefit rates only rose by €143.75 in the same period. Government ministers’ take-home pay rose by more than €1,200 a week in the same period, according to SJI. The full text of the SJI article appears below. Visit Politico's TD Watch to see salary details of all TDs.

Fr Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland, said: “There is no way a TD or Government minister can justify voting for a cut in welfare rates in Budget 2011. Welfare recipients are among Ireland’s poorest and most vulnerable people. They should and can be protected.”

"Government has other choices available to it such as spreading the ‘hit’ for Ireland’s rescue more fairly by eliminating tax-breaks, by insisting the corporate sector make a contribution to Ireland’s recovery and by ensuring bond holders share some part of the cost of recovery that Ireland requires following on their gambling on Ireland’s banks.”

Social Justice Ireland’s research shows that over the period 1986-2010:

  • The take-home pay of clerical officers in the public sector rose by €406.80 a week.
  • The take-home pay of a person on the average industrial wage rose by €342.66 a week.
  • The contributory old age pension for a single person rose by €162.35 a week.

Social Justice Ireland is correct in saying the government’s current approach to Budget 2011 will seriously damage the sick, the poor and the vulnerable.

People in receipt of social welfare payments are either in poverty or close to being in that situation. Reducing social welfare rates will simply condemn Ireland’s poorest and most vulnerable people to a life of misery as they take the ‘hit’ for actions they had no hand, act or part in. No TD should vote to reduce social welfare rates in Budget 2011. Other options are available and should be followed.

Social Justice Ireland fully acknowledges the gravity of the present situation which has been caused by a variety of groups including government itself. Very difficult decisions must be made and made quickly if the present decline is to be reversed. It is in the interest of all Irish people that the correct decisions be made now.

However, those decisions must be fair and just. What Government is proposing to do is deeply unfair and unjust. It is totally unacceptable that Government targets the sick, the poor and the vulnerable to rescue Ireland while some of those who are among Ireland’s richest and/or most powerful groups are dispensed from making any contribution to rectifying the situation.

Social Justice Ireland believes a fairer future is possible. We urge Government to act fairly and justly in the coming weeks and months as it designs a pathway out of the present difficult situation. Such a pathway must not target the sick, the poor and the vulnerable. A fairer future can be shaped and reached without asking the weakest and poorest in society to bear the brunt of the adjustments required.