herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

TDs still giving jobs to families in face of call to end cronyism

AT least 15pc of TDs - including Government ministers -- have employed family members as staff, it emerged today.

Some 25 of the 166 TDs in the Dail have hired relatives to carry out administrative and other duties, it was revealed.

Among them are junior ministers Ciaran Cannon and Shane McEntee, both of Fine Gael -- the party that campaigned against cronyism during the election.

Mr Cannon has hired his wife Niamh Lawless as his personal secretary, a position that comes with a salary of up to €47,000.

The Junior Education and Skills Minister, who had promised to "sweep away the culture of cronyism", has also taken on his brother-in-law as one of his drivers.



Assistant

The civilian driver's post comes with a €35,000 wage.

Junior agriculture minister Shane McEntee has hired his daughter Helen to job-share a personal assistant post.

The Meath East TD told the Herald his daughter is fully qualified for the role, having studied for a degree in economics and law and then obtained a Masters in a media-related topic.

"She is temporary with me. She is looking for a full-time job," he said.

Mr McEntee does not believe there is any conflict between him hiring his daughter and Fine Gael's pre-election promises.

"No, there is no conflict. The girl is qualified and she went through the process," he said.

Mr Cannon could not be contacted today for a comment.

Junior Enterprise Minister Sean Sherlock and Junior Environment Minister Willie Penrose, both of Labour, also have family members working for them as assistants.

Mr Sherlock employs his sister as a secretarial assistant in his Cork East constituency office, while Mr Penrose employs his brother, Johnny.

Labour's Kerry North TD Arthur Spring, the nephew of former party leader and Tanaiste Dick Spring, has his brother Graham as his own parliamentary assistant.

The post carries a salary of up to €52,000.

It comes despite Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore telling TDs not to hire family members as part of their staff or put them on their vacated council seats.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett's daughter Jaci works as the TD's assistant.

People Before Profit TD Joan Collins' partner Dermot Connolly, previously a party organiser, is one of two people job-sharing the parliamentary assistant's role in her office.

Labour's Kathleen Lynch, a junior health minister, employs her husband Bernard as her personal assistant.

Mr Cannon's wife has worked for him since 2007 -- when the then-PD was nominated to the Seanad by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Junior ministers are allowed to hire five people in their private offices and another three in their constituency offices.

Among the other TDs who have hired family members is Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan, whose son Tim works in his Dail office as an assistant.



Temporary

In addition, Labour TD for Kildare South Jack Wall's son Mark works as the deputy's parliamentary secretary.

Fine Gael's Dublin North deputy Alan Farrell took on his wife, Emma Doyle, as a temporary parliamentary assistant.

And Independent TD Mattie McGrath has his daughter Triona and niece Kathy sharing the job of his parliamentary assistant.

comurphy@herald.ie

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