Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Frank Fahey, the former Fianna Fail Minister, was on the Late Debate last week whinging about the poor pay of politicians. Frank should take a walk through the Leinster House carpark and count the number of brand new or almost brand new Mercs, Audis and BMWs populating the members car park. He also made the incredible claim that if politicians weren't paid more, they wouldn't be able to attract people of the right calibre.

That's the oldest chestnut in the book. Everything is brought down to lowest common denominator and the presumption is made that if these guys weren't politicians they would be global entrepeneurs.

Erm wropng. Even if you doubled the average TD's salary from €100,000 to €200,000, you would get the same shower. No matter how much you paid, I'm afraid that with our culture of dynastic politics, we'd still get the same shower, as well as a chorus of county councillors who have struck it lucky by getting into the Dail.

And while I'm at it, Frank Fahey, what's wrong with €100,000 per annum. And besides what happened to the notion of public service?


Dan Sullivan said...

I had a goo at the cabinet's work history back in March. Not too many going to make millions in the private sector here -

Bertie Ahern - Bertie was a book keeper for the Mater before becoming a TD.

Mary Harney - was very briefly a secondary school teacher between her graduation in 1976 and her appointment to the Seanad by Jack Lynch in 1977.

Michael McDowell - a barrister since 1974. Not a lot of make and do in the old law library.

Mary Coughlan - Very briefly worked as a social worker after college before taking her seat in a bye election.

John O’Donoghue - A local solicitor

Dermot Ahern - A local solicitor

Brian Cowen - A local solicitor

Noel Dempsey - Career guidance teacher

Mary Hanafin - secondary school teacher

Micheál Martin - secondary school teacher.

Séamus Brennan - an accountant

Martin Cullen - worked as a sales manager for a wine company. Seriously a wine company!

Dick Roche - Masters Degree in Public Administration. Roche worked as a public servant at the Departments of Posts & Telegraphs, Transport & Power, Finance and at the Department of Economic Planning & Development. From 1978 he was a lecturer in Public Administration and Public Finance at UCD. A man so wedded to being a public servant it is hard to believe that he talks as if he was an exemplar of the private endeavour.

Willie O’Dea - O’Dea worked as a barrister and an accountant, and lectured at University College Dublin and the University of Limerick well really NIHE Limerick.

Charlie McCreevy - did Commerce at University College Dublin and went on to become a chartered accountant

Éamon Ó Cuív - was manager of Gaeltacht Co-operative, a company involved in agricultural services including timber milling, tourism and cultural development.

Michael Smith - Farmer, so at least he knows something about getting his hands dirty.

Joe Walsh - Walsh was a researcher in the National Dairy Research Centre at Moorepark and ended up as Managing Director of Strand Dairies in Clonakilty.


Harry McGee said...

Well that's a QED Dan if ever I saw one. Game set and match.

Ray said...

Dan, Harry,
"I had a goo at the cabinet's work history back in March. Not too many going to make millions in the private sector here"

"Well that's a QED Dan if ever I saw one. Game set and match."

I agree with the point that Fahey is out of order. However, I think it is a bit simplistic to assume that because the likes of Mary Harney was a teacher for a year after graduation, that she would have stayed in that job had she not gone into politics. It is highly likely, given all that she has subsequently achieved, that MH would have gone on to have a successful career in some area. Ditto with Bertie.

The founder of Dunnes Stores started off as a stock boy with Roches. His company went on to eclipse his previous employers. Just because our ministers did not have high paying jobs before politics, does not mean they wouldn't have achieved high salaries had they spent another 20+ years in the private sector.

BTW, I always presumed (a fatal mistake i know) that barristers were extremely well paid, and that MMcD would have been better paid as a barrister than as a politician.

Clearly the cabinet is not rich in talent, but there is some talent in there. I am not a fan of Bertie, but he does deserve credit for achieving a lot as Taoiseach. Sure, a lot was in place before him, but he was, in my opinion, a very successful Finance minister and Taoiseach.

Dan Sullivan said...

Part of my reason for doing that is I have a bugbear about the lack of hard-science/engineering background people in politics. One of the FFer I have a lot of time for was Donogh O'Malley who achieved more in his brief time in the department of education than most ministers since and he was an engineer.

FPL said...


George Monbiot argues that politicians should not be paid large sums since it would attract people unduly motivated by money.

He says the salary should be pitched at a low level to attract people who are not in it for the money but are motivated by public service etc.

Maybe then we'd have more Joe Higgins's and less Berties in the Dail.