Sinn Fein has been accused of “hypocrisy” over its call for special adviser pay in Dublin to be capped – just months after killing off a proposal to do just that in Belfast.
Last October Sinn Fein joined forces with the DUP to vote down a private member’s bill from TUV leader Jim Allister which would have capped the pay of Stormont’s 19 special advisers (Spads) at £78,000 (E100,118).
The bill would also have reduced by four the total number of Stormont Spads – who between them cost taxpayers over £2 million a year in salaries, pension contributions and severance money – to 15.
Yet, having rejected that reform at Stormont, Sinn Fein’s manifesto for Friday’s election to the Dail pledges: “We will cap the pay of special advisors to the taoiseach and ministers at €75,000 [£58,371].”
The four Sinn Fein Spads in Martin McGuinness’s department alone cost £297,790 a year in salaries – most of which they give to Sinn Fein.
Mr Allister said that in light of Sinn Fein’s decision to join the DUP in “killing off” his bill, “I find it exceedingly striking therefore that Sinn Fein is calling for a cap on special advisers’ pay in the Republic but opposed such in Northern Ireland.
“Sinn Fein/IRA are calling for an upper limit of €75,000 when it comes to Spads in the Republic yet they voted against capping special adviser pay at around €100,000 in Northern Ireland.
“The hypocrisy of republicans knows no bounds.
“They protect Spad pay in Northern Ireland and continue to rip the public off yet in the Republic they try to portray themselves as out for the interests of the taxpayer.”
He added: “So much for the champions of the working class.”
A Sinn Fein spokesman told the Irish Times that there was no inconsistency between its positions on either side of the border and claimed that there had been an ulterior motive to Mr Allister’s bill – despite the fact that it was one of the shortest and simplest pieces of legislation to ever come before Stormont, running to just over 260 words (that is, shorter than this report).
The Sinn Fein spokesman said: “The private members’ legislation introduced by the anti-agreement TUV leader, Jim Allister, was never about reducing special advisers’ salaries but was an attack on the institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement.
“It was on this basis that Sinn Fein voted against his bill.
“In the most recent negotiations, Sinn Fein proposed a 15 per cent pay cut for MLAs, ministers and their special advisers but other parties refused to support this move.”