When is an amazingly generous pay rise not a pay rise? Well, when the Taoiseach decides to defer it for a year. No, not reject it. No, not saying: lads, we are getting paid enough already, let's do this as an example. No, what they are doing is deferring the phase-in for one year. Not even a year. They'll get the whole lot but it will start being phased in in September 2008 rather than in January.
How generous of them.
True, it would have been a humiliating climbdown for The Anorak and his shower (actually that's not a bad way of describing the Cabinet) if they had simply turned it down.
But this fudge is meaningless. And I bet that when it is phased in it will be back-dated meaning that they'll get it all as if they got it now (all that will be deferred is actual payment).
Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern came out on the Plinth in front of Leinster House and used all the standard excuses for defending it (independent body; seven years etc.). He was totally unaware that the same body for higher remuneration had awarded Ministers an interim pay award of 7.5% two years ago and seemed to be rather hazy on the details of what pay rises Ministers have got in the past seven years.
It's amazing how quickly our political aristocracy has become divorced from the harsh reality faced by their serfs.