Ireland’s new President will be asked to take a voluntary pay cut – and prove he or she really has the country’s best interests at heart.
The Irish government has admitted that it is currently powerless when it comes to cutting the $450,000 salary that goes with the job.
Legislation to reduce the salary to $350,000 has yet to be passed into law and won’t be before the result of Thursday’s referendum to cut pay to judge’s is known. The Presidential salary is linked to the chief justice’s pay.
Outgoing President Mary McAleese did take a voluntary pay cut when the Celtic Tiger economy collapsed.
Brendan Howlin, the Minister responsible for Public Expenditure and Reform, has told the Irish parliament that the incoming President will be asked to make a similar gesture as soon as he or she takes office.
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“Mrs McAleese’s successor will suffer a reduction in salary once the Single Pension Scheme and Remuneration Bill is passed. It is currently before the Oireachtas (parliament),” said Howlin.
The President’s salary - set at the rate of the chief justice’s pay - is protected under the Constitution, which provides that the emoluments and allowances of the president shall not be reduced while in office.
Outgoing President McAleese took a 10 per cent cut and then a 20 per cent cut in her salary as well as a 12.5 per cent reduction on her allowances over the last two years.
On her final day in office, President McAleese announced that she is to return more than 60 gifts she received from visiting dignitaries over her 14 years in office.
These include recent gifts from President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth which will be kept in the presidential house while the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) decides what to do with the remaining gifts.