There was an angry reaction from local businesspeople to comments made by outgoing Fianna Fail TD Johnny Brady at a recent Trim Chamber of Commerce debate in response to a question on TDs’ salaries.
All of the Meath West election candidates were invited by Trim Chamber of Commerce to set out their policies and what they would do to help businesspeople in Meath, and this was followed by a question and answer session. One businessperson present commented that Deputy Brady’s comments had gone down like a “lead balloon” and said there were businesses in attendance who are struggling that were appalled by his comments.
When asked about the salaries of TDs, Deputy Brady said that, like many businesses, he is asked to make contributions to voluntary organisations and that these come from his salary and are not treated as expenses.
Speaking to the Meath Chronicle yesterday (Tuesday), Deputy Brady denied that he had implied at the meeting that he was struggling to survive on his TD’s salary but acknowledged he did say his wife had to ask him every month when his cheque was coming because the bank would be running low.
Deputy Brady said every politician works in the best interests of the constituency and its people and that none are in it for the money, adding that, as the only sitting TD present, he felt he needed to explain the situation.
“People imagine that politicians are cleaning up on salaries and expenses. All expenses are vouched for and we have to put in an account for all expenses and this is there for the media or anyone to see,” he said.
He said he spoke about voluntary contributions but never said he was getting it hard to survive.
After cuts, taxes and levies, Deputy Brady said he would take home €45,000-€46,000 and that politicians of all parties pay their levies, taxes and and have had their pay reduced like everybody else in the public sector.
Regarding comments that he was no better off than when he entered the council in 1974 earning £6, Deputy Brady said that his bank account is no better off today as a TD than it was then because there are a lot more personal expenses and that, in his council days, he did not have expenses like he has now.
He pointed out that he had to build an extension to his house for people coming to call, for which he took a loan out, that he has a mortgage, like anybody else, and that that he needed a good car under him.
“We are no different than anybody else but people think we are cleaning up. Just because you are a TD, people think you are rolling in it. It is totally untrue,” he claimed. He added it is “annoying” when people think you are in public life for the money when it is “totally untrue”.
The Fianna Fail TD said he also told the meeting that, even if his salary was cut in half, he would still be a public representative and continue to work for the people.
Candidates in attendance also included Cllr Shane Cassells for Fianna Fail, Cllr Ray Butler for Fine Gael, Sinn Fein’s Peadar Toibin, Labour’s Jenny McHugh and Seamus McDonagh for the Workers Party.
Damien English and Cllr Catherine Yore sent their apologies.