Today, Jim McDaid resolutely declared that he would not be giving up his ministerial pension of €22,487. Just to be clear, we’re not expecting him to spend his golden years in dire penury. McDaid will still receive his other Dail pension. Perish the thought that he would have to live on the measly €225 that his government expects ‘regular’ pensioners in this country to live on. No, no, banish that thought outright as well!
McDaid was quoted today as saying that he would not like to see a situation where ‘only the wealthy could enter politics’. What Ireland is he living in? In the Ireland where I live, only the wealthy can enter the supermarket, for God’s sake!
Dr Jim is clear that he’s keeping his pensions not because of the money – of course not, it’s never about the money, is it? – but on a point of principle. Well now, if it’s not about the money, and it’s merely a matter of principle why doesn’t he take the money and give it to charity? Or to his local hospital?
The principle that Dr McDaid is sitting so loftily on is the principle of not being ‘whipped’ by the media in a ‘media driven witch hunt’. He is very cross with the media for mentioning that he is keeping both his pensions. Surely, however, this is the very job of the media – to bring subjects of interest to the attention of the public. The Fourth Estate is duty-bound to inform, offer opinions and present alternative points of view.
McDaid’s outrage would be funny if it weren’t so serious. His point of view is that because it is legal for him to hang onto both his pensions, he’s jolly well going to. It’s not very admirable, is it: To find a loophole in the law and wriggle through it to claim asylum? Shrugging and saying ‘But it’s perfectly legal’ doesn’t mean that something is perfectly moral.
We elect people to lead us. We expect them to lead by example. I don’t think the example of Dr James McDaid is one worth following.