Ministers sign off on pay rise for judges and party whips after refusing pay for student nurses

Ministers sign off on pay rise for judges and party whips after refusing pay for student nurses

JUDGES AND political party whips are to receive a pay rise after Cabinet Ministers signed off on the increase yesterday.

The Cabinet, made up of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party Ministers, yesterday signed off on a 2% increase in pay for judges in Ireland, in line with the 2% increase for all public servants which came into effect on 1 October.

According to RTÉ News, under 1961 legislation the Government must agree on a pay rise for the judiciary as it does not come into effect automatically.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar insisted judges were not receiving preferential treatment, and that it would be unfair for them to be the only public servants not availing of the 2% pay rise, but admitted there was never a right time for the Government to agree a pay increase.

He was forced to defend the decision to agree a pay rise for judges when student nurses are not being paid, after the Coalition Government last week voted down a motion which would have seen pay reinstated to student nurses and midwives working long shifts on the frontlines.

The Cabinet has also agreed a pay increase in pay for party whips, with the Sinn Féin Whip to receive €19,000 and other opposition parties to receive  €6,000.

Sinn Féin, under leader Mary Lou McDonald, have said they will not accept the pay increases.

Deputy McDonald, speaking in the Dáil yesterday, criticised  Taoiseach Micheál Martin's government for voting against student nurses and midwives and then agreeing to "increase pay for super junior ministers and judges".

The Taoiseach in turn accused Ms McDonald of "politicising" the situation, and said there should not be a return to the apprenticeship model of training nurses, and the university degree model had been fought for by unions.

First year nursing students, he said, should not be treating Covid-19 patients, "and they are not meant to be treating patients full stop".

First to third year nursing students receive an allowance of €50 per week, while fourth-year students receive pay during their internship.