If you thought that Bertie Ahern takes home a very large pay-packet, think again. Since he gave himself (and all his ministers) a hefty rise after winning the last general election, the Taoiseach is now the highest-paid political leader in the world, but he looks still like small fry compared with the three highest earners in our national broadcasting corporation.
Our dear friends in RTÉ, to whose words of wisdom and gossip we listen every day with great awe, are much better paid than our more than well remunerated politicians, without having any of the responsibilities a member of the government has ad officio.
And since we all contribute to these generous pay-packets with our license fee, we are entitled to know all about them. To satisfy our curiosity, RTÉ is obliged to publish a list of its top earners each year. Now that it is out, let's have a look at it.
Top of the list - and not only top o' the morning - is to no one's surprise Pat Kenny (right), whose annual pay-packet from RTÉ is € 849,139. Quite a nice nest egg for ten hours per week on Radio 1, plus the Late Late Show on TV every Friday (except for the long summer break). To be fair, he does have a very interesting radio show every weekday morning, and I often listen to him with great interest. If it however justifies such a large salary could be debatable.
No. 2 in the illustrious list is Radio 2 presenter Gerry Ryan, who takes home € 558,990 a year. Not as much as dear Pat, of course, but Ryan's appearances on TV cannot match those of Kenny, who regularly scores the highest audience numbers, both on radio and TV.
The third highest earner surprised me a little, since Marian Finucane now only works four hours a week - two each on Saturday and Sunday. For that she is paid the princely sum of € 455,190 per annum. (Who says that women are always paid less than men...)
Probably the best value for money is the (No. 4) salary of € 367,804 that RTÉ pays Liveline presenter Joe Duffy (left) every year. Having done some broadcasting myself, I know how stressful it can be to conduct live interviews and conversations over the phone, especially when they are with a lot of different people, most of which have neither radio experience nor speech training. And to make it even harder, many of them are either distressed or have axes to grind. That's a tough job, and Joe handles it really well, five times a week.
Only marginally smaller is the pay-packet for Ryan Tubridy, who comes in at No. 5 with € 346,667 per annum. Once again the money reflects work in both radio and TV, and being still a very young man, his income is likely to rise further in future.
Another surprise for me is the pay of presenter and wildlife enthusiast Derek Mooney (right), who ranks in 6th place with an (compared with some others) almost meager € 242,408 a year. Given the amount of work Mooney does on both radio and TV, I had expected him to be paid more than that, especially when one compares the quality and quantity of his appearances with some of the other top ten. But since he is also still young, he might well work himself further up the greasy pole in years to come.
The remaining four places in RTÉ's very own Top-Ten-List are occupied by Marty Whelan (No. 7) with an astonishing € 229,056 per annum, given that he has really not much to say, and even that comes across artificial and insincere; Miriam O'Callaghan (No. 8), who should spend some of her annual salary of € 221,383 on a few good speech and elocution lessons (from which we would all benefit by actually understanding what she is saying); John Kelly (No. 9) with € 204,675 a year; and Bryan Dobson (No. 10) whose annual pay-packet of € 193,610 appears almost small compared with some of the higher-ups. Nevertheless, even he would have to look long and hard to find an equally well-paid job elsewhere.
And now, that you know how a good part of your license fee is spent, you will listen to the radio and watch TV with a whole new sense of personal involvement, won't you?
The Emerald Islander