herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Taoiseach condemns hiring of family members in Dail

John Perry
John Perry

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has condemned the practice of politicians employing members of their family and paying them from taxpayer funds.

Mr Kenny was asked about the latest controversy surrounding former junior minister for small business, John Perry.

The Taoiseach dropped the Sligo TD from his Government team last July.

It has since emerged that Mr Perry appointed his wife, Marie, as his parliamentary assistant, a job paying between €38,000 and €49,000 per year, with scope to earn up to 20pc in overtime.

The couple have agreed to repay almost €2.5m in loans to a bank after serious business difficulties during the recent recession.

Asked about Mr Perry's actions, as he went to an EU leaders' summit in Brussels, Mr Kenny said he was always against politicians employing family members.

"I've given my opinion on this before and for many years. I don't think it's a wise thing for politicians to employ family members," the Taoiseach said.

"In the vast majority of cases, and for very many years, wives or spouses, as the case may be, have given endless hours of work for nothing, of course," Mr Kenny added. "So, that's my opinion and I stand by it."

Later, replying to questions in Irish, Mr Kenny said he appreciated that sometimes TDs had issues and difficulties about expenses.

"But I believe a member of family should not be working for any TD," the Taoiseach said emphatically.

Mr Perry was first elected a Fine Gael TD for Sligo/North Leitrim in June 1997.

Reshuffle

He was appointed Minister for State for Small Businesses in March 2011, but lost this post in the ministerial reshuffle in July 2014.

Mr Perry and his wife had their names published in the debtors' listing magazine Stubbs Gazette last summer over a €2.47m judgment they had to pay.

They consented to a judgement in the Commercial Court for €2.47m and agreed a programme of debt repayments with Danske Bank.

Other government politicians also said it was wrong of Mr Perry to hire his wife as parliamentary assistant.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said it was simply wrong but he said it was not up to him to call on Mr Perry to sack his wife.

"I believe it is more appropriate that family members are not appointed to these roles," Mr Donohoe said.

"In relation to the perception that people will have of us, people will obviously consider many factors in deciding how to vote in the next general election" the Transport Minister added.

hnews@herald.ie

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