Ya know, maybe it would feel better if they were worth it, but it doesnt’ ease the pain at all.
The revelation this week online of the monthly Oireachtas expenses has been a real insight into the ‘pigs to the trough’ approach that our politicians adapt when it comes to grabbing the loot. At a time when the birds are falling off the trees with the hunger and when even the Duchess of York hasn’t even got a pot to have a royal “we” in, it’s galling to see the expenses that almost all of our politicians are racking up,. while simultaneously having a laugh at ourselves along the way. The Ivor Callely scandal has resulted in much of the media attention, but a cursory glance at the expenses pulled by our senators makes us question the value of the Upper House. And whether the people we are sending to it are really worth all this money.
Bad and all as it is to see TDs creaming the expenses, it is anger-making to see our senators pulling almost a grand a week — just for getting to work — on top of their wages.
At least the TDs and Minmsters have gone before the people and have been elected. The Seanad is a sanctuary for the rejected, the last bastion of cronyism where all of them owe their seats to some internecine political backscratching, cosy institutional protectionism or as political favours struck in smoke-filled rooms. In the main, Seanad seats are sops for the rejected or are finishing schols for wannabe TDs. So should we continue to subsidise such institutions?
Our three senators here in Galway have all gone before the electorate at the General Election and have been roundly rejected, yet the figures revealed this week show that they are all claiming or are entitled to claim the guits of €1,000 a week just for getting to work. Now, I know we’re living on the edge of a country on the edge of Europe, but spending €3,500 a month on transport and accommodation and not having to touch a penny of your actual salary to do this is obscene at a time when there are entire families living on less than half that allowance each month.
At a time when the country is suffering, can we really afford to reward these political rejects with grandiose salaries and expense schemes. You can be damn well sure if they had to pay their own transport to get to work like the rest of the country, they wouldn’t be spending anything as near as much as €3,500 a month. And remember, almost all of our local reps are travelling on the train anyway and don’t stay away. Who are the fools here?