Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins has responded to the astonishing claim by Minister Brian Hayes that he does not enjoy a ‘mega salary’, earning a meagre €130,000 per year, plus expenses.
Deputy Collins commented, “Last night on Tonight with Vincent Browne, dismissing valid criticism that those on lower incomes were paying a disproportionate cost in Budget 2012, Minister Hayes displayed quite breathtaking arrogance which will have infuriated many people. Waving away the charge that he was enjoying a mega salary, he acknowledged that his basic salary was €130,000 but claimed to be sharing the pain because he had to pay VAT and he would see a cut in his child benefit!
“The Minister added further insult to those who had their disability allowance cut, had their fuel allowance cut, are having the Job Seekers Benefit cut or will be losing their job because of cuts in the Capital Expenditure budget by going out of his way to defend the Taoiseach’s special pleading for a €35,000 pay hike for a ministerial adviser. His only explanation for the high salaries appeared to be the ‘L’Oreal Defence’ – he an his colleagues enjoy high wages “because we’re worth it”.
“When questioned continuously about how this budget is a balanced budget, Minister Hayes appeared bemused and confused by the question. His only answer was that there was a breakdown of 60:40 in spending cuts versus tax increases. When Vincent Browne pointed out that he was referring to the balance between the impact on the low paid versus the high paid, the Minister described the anger over social welfare cuts as a “pantomime” and said that Vincent Browne was “trying to dramatise” the issue for the purposes of good television.
“The fact that a Government Minister would go on national television on the night of the budget to defend his salary and claim that he is feeling the same pain as someone suffering social welfare cuts gives an interesting insight into the attitudes within Fine Gael and Labour and explains their comfort with abandoning the long list of promises made to secure election in February.”