Friday, October 16, 2009

Outrageous Fortunes - by Eoin Ó Broin

Below is a piece from this weeks An Phoblacht from Eoin Ó Broin.


IT really takes something to get me angry these days.

In a world of greed and corruption, the impropriety of John O Donoghue’s expense claims or the political opportunism of the Green Party just seem so run of the mill.
Even NAMA and its outrageous €50 billion risk to the taxpayer doesn’t make me angry. What would you expect from a Fianna Fáil government?

But one story that did make me angry last week was the announcement of RTÉ’s top earners.

Pat Kenny’s salary for 2008 was €950,976. That’s €28,000 more than his 2007 salary and €100,000 up on 2006.

Gerry Ryan wasn’t far behind, on €629,865, while Marian Finucane received €570,000, an increase of almost €100,000 on 2007.

Meanwhile, RTÉ golden boy Ryan Tubridy has got a whopping €200,000 pay rise since 2006; last year he got €533,333.

And the more pedestrian Joe Duffy and Eamon Dunphy scored €408,889 and €328,051, both up considerably on 2007.

All of these people earned more than Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. They even earned more than our overpaid Taoiseach Brian Cowen whose salary at €232,572 is higher than his British and US counterparts.

More significantly for this writer, the RTÉ high-flyers received between 10 and 27 times the average industrial wage of €38,000 and somewhere between 10 and 20 times the pay of most teachers, nurses, gardaí, and other frontline public sector workers.
What does this say about our society and the value it places on people?

ARE Pat Kenny, Gerry Ryan, Marian Finucane or Golden Boy Tubridy really worth 15 nurses or schoolteachers?

Are they really 17 times more valuable that the average worker?
Is their contribution to society really so much more valuable than literacy tutors, community workers, or carers for people with disabilities?

Of course not!

This is public money, paid by RTÉ licence-holders and general taxpayers. Paying such high salaries for these people is a disgrace, not only because of the sums of money involved but because of what it says about who we are as a society.

Each of these broadcasters should be publicly ashamed of their salaries. They are leeching off the public purse, promoting a culture of greed.

However, the real outrage is that RTÉ management considers such high salaries appropriate and that Government willingly allows our money to be wasted in this way.
The case for a cap on public sector pay has never been more compelling than in this case. If Pat Kenny, Gerry Ryan, Marian Finucane or Ryan Tubridy want to be paid such obscene salaries, let them emigrate.

And while we are at it, lets not stop at broadcasters. Let’s make the argument for a maximum salary in the public sector and for pay scales to be graded on the basis of social value.

The argument that you have to pay such salaries to attract talent and skill simply no longer holds any credibility. After all, look at what we pay our bankers and Cabinet ministers.

P.S Thanks to Martin Ferris for posting this link on facebook. Eoin had a letter in the Irish Times concerning Brendan Drumm's bonus.


– If €70,000 is deemed an appropriate performance-related bonus for Brendan Drumm’s failure to reform our health system, imagine the size of the bonus he would get if he managed to improve the operation of that health system. – Yours, etc,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.


  1. OH yes and the director of fas that got a golden car and a massive bonus as a payoff gift for his years of diservice to the unemployed is none other that the taoiseach's wife's brother in law, keep the family happy

  2. In the Netherlands the Dutch have a thing called the Blakenende norm. Jan Peter Balkenende being their prime minister. The norm is the understanding that public servants not be paid more than their boss - the prime minister. They have extended it to some media stations. It would be a start here.

    The wage for Pat is also a distortion of the market. Cut Pats wage to 450,000. Drop it by over 50%

    Where will Pat go? Will he go to the BBC/UTV. TV3 cant afford him so not point mentioning them. Will he go stateside?

    No of course not. Pat will come in the next day cross as a devil but he'll accept it because he has no other choice.

    Thats the saddest thing here. All these guys will work for less because no one will pay them that salary anywhere else.

    Its another example of the cosy world many live here in this island.

    Reality is that some people need to be paid very very well to attract the best but thats only if there is competition for them.

    There is little competition for RTEs stable of B rate hacks.

  3. This is just another example of the legal corruption that exists in Irish society. The "leading people" in this country all know eachother and look after eachother. So the TD's give themselves rediculous wages, RTE pay the people at the top crazy money, the bankers give themselves crazy pensions, bonuses and pay off's etc etc.

    Yet if we call for the state to regulate this then they say we are going to stop economic development and enterprise.

    It's all just the same old story. The ruling class look after eachother and therefore the working class needs to do the same. The main way we do this is through the trade union movement. but where is the Sinn Féin presence in that movement?

  4. Good question Anon #3. I've been to cumann meetings where a Union rep was involved, but I got the impression they were there on a more observational role. Rarely does the role of unions or workers rights come up in a meeting. Given that the Irish Labour Party is distancing themselve from the Union movement, and the new legislation that waters down wage earners rights(2007 act), there is scope for a more active engagement with Unions imho.

    However, I think that a macro plan for SF in its approach to any Unions, and some Unions are better than others, would need to be devised. Imo, the national agreements in which Unions participate have been an utter disaster for wage earners; especially those in more manual types of jobs - but also in the service sectors.

    I feel that Unions should be broadly industry/service sector specific and given the scope to protect jobs from agency predators and such. It is not up to a political party, which must take into account all facits of the nation's needs, to act as a de facto Union leader. There are many problems (real and perceived) associated with the Union program and a selective advance towards dialogue should be selective.

    Make no mistake about it, it seem the majority of the electorate do not like Unions. As a Socialist, myself, I think Unions are about the only means for wage earners to protect themselves in our society these days, but the current political climate in addition to legislation has given the upper hand to owners and share owners big time.

    Oh well, the world's in a terrible state o' chasis, and it seems to be getting worse day by day. gl