Republic’s base for public sector pay and welfare cuts much higher than the north’s

Cuts in pay and welfare start in the Republic start from a much higher base than in Northern Ireland, according to headline comparisons made by Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times. This is a reporting mission I’ve been urging for months. Well done Gerry.  The job is by no means complete and I hope it will prompt wider analysis and debate. Remember that Irish public sector pay and benefits was higher a year ago. The taoiseach’s salary was about 20% up on today. Public sector pay was cut by 5% up to €30,000 to 15% on those earning up to €200,000. Child benefit was reduced by € 15 a month. From the next budget in 7 December, this is hardly the end of the story. Extracts from the report..


The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, earns €228,466 compared to €134,436 for First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Government Ministers earn €191,417 compared to €94,959 for their Stormont counterparts. TDs earn €92,672 compared to €50,595 for Assembly members.

 Perhaps the more relevant comparisons however would be with the British Prime Minister who is holding down his pay to  £142,000 (€167,800), UK Cabinet ministers, £134,565, (€159,062, including their MPs’ salary) and  MPs, £ 65,738 (€ 80.059). The US President’s salary ( minus the odd  jumbo airplane and chopper and White House and Camp David living allowances, mind you) is $400,000 (€298,950) – not a whole lot more than the Taoiseach.

Hospital consultants

Northern Ireland hospital consultants earn between €87,460 and €117,923,– less than half of pay for consultants south of the Border.

Rates for consultants in the South who do public hospital work only range from €184,455 as entrants to €241,539 at professor level.

Northern consultants can also earn bonus-type payments for public work, but even taking this into account there is still a huge gap in consultants’ pay between practitioners on both sides of the Border. Moreover, most Southern consultants earn substantial figures from private work – much more than their Northern counterparts, according to Northern consultants.


Southern staff nurses earn between €30,234 and €42,469, compared to a pay scale of between €24,856 and €32,521 for Northern nurses, according to the two health departments and nursing union representatives


The Department of Education in Northern Ireland was able to provide a clear statement of average payments for school principals (€65,867), vice-principals (€57,469) and teachers (€44,056), but the picture was less clear for the South.

Based on information provided by the Department of Education and teachers’ unions, the pay of teachers, on average, ranges between €55,000 and €60,000. Principals of 500-plus pupil secondary schools average between €95,000 and €105,000, while primary principals, who run smaller schools, on average earn about €67,000.

On the welfare side, Southern pensioners receive €230.30 per week compared to €114.65 for Northern counterparts.

Jobseekers over 25 in the South receive €196 per week compared to €76.82 for jobseekers over 25 years in the North.

Child benefit for the first child in the South is €150 per month compared to a Northern figure of €103.29 per month.

These headline figures really require more personal detail to be fully meaningful, like the impact of tax credits on families in the UK now subject to reform, and the costs of health insurance in the Republic, whereas health in the UK is of course free at the point of delivery.


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London