Current Affairs Politics

The Multi-Million Euro Presidency Of Ireland And That €317,000 Allowance

Talking of Irish political scandals, the news that the office of the president has been in receipt of an unaccountable “allowance” of €317,000 euros a year, in addition to the president’s annual salary of €325,000 (which the present incumbent, Michael D Higgins, voluntarily reduced to a pauper-like €250,000 in 2011), seems to have taken everyone by surprise. Even though the increased pay-out from state coffers was legislated for way back in 1998, when Mary McAleese was sitting in Áras an Uachtaráin. The expenses for the President of Ireland have been wrapped in secrecy and obfuscation for decades and some estimates put the cost to the tax-payer for the most recent seven year incumbency at €30 million and more. This is a truly astonishing figure for a largely ceremonial, non-executive role. Is it any wonder that a bevvy of less than inspiring characters are lining up to try and get their foot in the door of the Áras?

Meanwhile, The Irish Times reports that the former Labour politician Michael D Higgins had this reply for those criticising the inflated costs of his presidency:

Mr Higgins says he has no role in handling the allowance which is used for the many events that take place in the Áras each year.

He said it was always open to the Oireachtas to remove the allowance “if you didn’t want to serve a cup of tea to those elderly citizens, if you didn’t want to receive those citizens who were in the Magdalene Laundries or those associated with the Irish language movement and indeed all the different voluntary groups”.

Which as tone deaf statements go, is somewhere up there with Marie Antoinette’s, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioch!”.

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10 comments on “The Multi-Million Euro Presidency Of Ireland And That €317,000 Allowance

  1. He should be paying us to stay in that big house.

    • The way the presidency has taken on a sort of monarchical feel since the time of Mary Robinson is galling. He or she is there to act as a constitutional guarantor not to swan around the country in a feckin’ Learjet!

      • Yes, very much agree ASF. It’s a sign of the times since the 90s but nonetheless, I’d love a bit more sense of us all being citizens of a Republic (however flawed) as distinct from having this sense of otherness about the Presidency.

  2. I understood that the election of such a diminutive figure was a very welcome reflection of the need for the State to save money,

  3. ar an sliabh

    I would really like to get paid €250,000 to timpeall na tire, have a good time and chat with some old ladies over tea, along with €317,000 to spend for the frivolities. What a pleasant occupation! With a great pension to boot! Most of us have to break our back to get a quarter of that, and when we are done, we are lucky we don’t freeze to death in the winter on the pension we get. I actually like Higgins, but I would have expected a little more “Larkin” spirit from his generation of Labour.

  4. Caroline Cunningham

    What about Freedom of Information Ireland? Is it not possible to request some sort of breakdown of expenditure for the office specific to the ‘entertaining of the common folk’? They must keep records – a cup of tea isn’t free even if you’re elderly……..

    • Exactly. We need people on the case and stuff is already coming out. However the reaction of the Higgins’ fanboys and fangirls has been pretty shocking. I count myself a fan but this is a public official in a public office receiving – and spending – public monies. There can be no ambiguities or uncertainties about how this is happening.

  5. Muckraking and bullshit pushed by Independent newspapers. It’s nothing but money used to fulfill the office of President. Whether that office is being widened is another days work, if there’s to be a debate on the ceremonial role of the President let it happen when the election is over.

    • But it’s money that is not subject to audit. And now we have press speculation of advisers receiving top-ups out of this unaccountable fund. It doesn’t look good. Michael D Higgins may be a fine president but the presidency has to be subject to the same rules as the citizenry. All of our senior elected officials in the republic are paid ridiculous wages and subsidies.

      • It is piddling money when all is said and done. Michael D. didn’t ask for it, didn’t lie about it, didn’t pretend that it was audited, no more than the other presidents before him. There are definitely good reasons that sort of money shouldn’t be available to a president but all this hue and cry one month before the election is just a way to get at Michael Ds standing. It’s mud and some of it will stick, thus leaving the way clear for stuff like this: https://www. independent.ie/irish-news/presidential-election-2018/president-higgins-campaign-fundraiser-draws-criticism-for-asking-people-to-chip-in-37372007.html
        (the headline tells you all you need to know, don’t bother clicking it, utter crap)

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