In an interview with Trinity News, Senator David Norris has defended his recent controversial comments regarding TDs’ salaries and their treatment by the Dáil.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner in recent weeks, Norris argued that TDs are worse off than those working low-paying jobs.
Norris called the basic salary of €87,258 plus expenses that TDs are paid a “financial cushion… pretty bloody thin.”
He claimed that TDs are more at risk of losing their positions while those in low-paying positions are “usually secure in a job.”
He described the Dáil pay system as “a tough, cruel game” and said that those who lost seats in the election had “passed out into the desert with a family and no income.” He added that money is no reward for the strains of a political career.
Norris also said that politicians are restricted in how they can vote and express themselves publicly.
Speaking to Trinity News, Norris said that he was “absolutely unashamed” of his remarks.
He also criticised the discriminatory culture in politics, saying TDs in the Dáil are always attaching unfair motivations to their colleagues’ actions while “a hatred of politicians [is] stirred up by a vicious media.”
Norris stood by his comments regarding TDs’ pay, claiming that he had been subject to “ignorant abuse” over them. “There is a cruelty out there in the public, and in particular in the ‘Twitterati,’” he said.
According to Norris, TDs are in a vulnerable position due to a lack of sympathy from the government towards those who lose their seats.
He said that he was recently contacted by a fifty-year-old TD with three children who lost his seat in the General Election and is struggling financially, and he asked: “Do people not think of these human issues in addition to the crushing blow to the personality of somebody who’s been massively rejected by the people?”
This former TD, according to Norris, received a €10,000 severance package and will receive half-pay for three months.
Norris insisted that he was just as concerned about the financial security of those outside of government, particularly those on minimum wage. He claimed he had been “one of the very few voices” to speak out on behalf of the workers who were made redundant when Clerys on O’Connell Street was closed in June 2015. Norris was one of 12,000 people who signed a SIPTU petition calling for negotiations between redundant staff and Natrium, the consortium that bought up Clerys.
Senator Norris told Trinity News that he will continue to defend TDs in public, even if it means losing his seat.