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'I'll take a pay cut under any new Croke Park deal' -- Kenny

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is prepared to take a pay cut as a bargaining chip in the bid to slash €1bn from the public payroll in a new Croke Park deal.

In 2011, Mr Kenny's salary dropped from €214,187 to €200,000, while Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's pay went down to €184,405 and ministers' pay was reduced to €169,275.

Now it appears more cuts are on the way as part of a new deal with the unions.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said a new Croke Park, with a further €1bn in savings, was essential to helping Ireland exit the bailout programme and for long-term economic stability.

"Whatever deal applies across the public service will apply to TDs and senators in like fashion," he said.

"In terms of ministers, the current Taoiseach earns 40pc less than his predecessor, the current Tanaiste earns 30pc less and ministers 25pc less than their predecessors," the minister said.

Trade unions are to meet tomorrow afternoon to consider whether to continue with talks with the Government aimed at securing an extension to the Croke Park agreement.

Mr Howlin said he believed public service workers were willing to engage with changes.

"They know we have to make that sum [€1bn]. I've had bilateral discussions with a number of the main unions and they understand that very well."

One of the requirements of a new deal was flexibility in the public service.

"I want to get rid of duplication, unnecessary waste, tiers of administration that are unnecessary," he said.



Bailout

"Everybody in the public service should know what their job is and should have a clear job description and should be capable of being judged on the performance of that job."

A menu of saving options offered to unions this week includes pay cuts for some grades, dropping of increments, longer working hours and a cut in overtime rates.

Mr Howlin said the Government did not "expect to get everything on that menu" and that unions could offer suggestions, too.

"Reducing the payroll costs by an additional €1bn is an essential part of our trajectory to economic sustainability," he said.

Asked whether a new deal was essential to exiting the bailout, he said: "That's the first step, of course."

His ambition was to have formal talks concluded by February and a deal in place by the first half of this year.

There have been signals that workers will face pay cuts of up to 7pc.

But the minister said: "I will engage in good faith. There's nothing hanging over anybody's head."

mlavery@herald.ie