Wednesday 22 February 2017

Taoiseach demanded key adviser be paid a higher rate

Kenny made personal appeal for €35,000 hike

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 05/12/2011 | 05:00

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny personally intervened to raise the wages of a special adviser.

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It emerged yesterday that Mr Kenny backed a pay rise worth €35,000 to his former communications manager, Ciaran Conlon.

Mr Conlon's previous salary as communications manager for Fine Gael has not been disclosed but it is understood it was higher than the €92,000 rate on offer when he became a special adviser to Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton.

Mr Kenny got his private sectary to send an email stating his view that it was "appropriate" to raise Mr Conlon's salary as a special adviser from the €92,000 standard rate to €127,000.

The revelation of Mr Kenny's role came on the day that he delivered his first televised state of the nation address, urging people to support his Government's Budget containing €3.8bn in tax increases and spending cutbacks.

This is the 14th time that the new Government has decided to pay one of its special advisers more than the standard €92,000 pay cap.

All such pay rises for special advisers have to be approved by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

But last night, the Government was unable to confirm whether Mr Kenny had also personally intervened in any more of these cases.

Mr Conlon said last night that he had "no comment" to make about his efforts to get a higher salary.

A Sunday newspaper published emails showing that he had complained earlier in the year that the delay in approving his salary was "getting ridiculous".

Yesterday, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar defended the decision to give Mr Conlon a higher salary.

"We decided that we would pay advisers at the level of principal officer in the civil service. . . but an exception would be made if the person was coming from a job in the private sector where they were being paid a lot more, where they were taking a pay cut to come and work for the Government," he said.

The Department of Finance introduced a salary range of €80,000 - €92,0000 for special advisers to prevent a repeat of what had happened in recent years -- when former Taoiseach Brian Cowen's programme manager and special adviser Joe Lennon was paid €188,640.

But the new Government has authorised salaries that are even larger than Mr Conlon's. Two of Mr Kenny's advisers, chef de cabinet Mark Keneally and economic adviser Andrew McDowell, are now on salaries of €168,000 each.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's chef de cabinet Mark Garrett is on €168,000 and his economic adviser Colm O'Reardon is on €155,000.

It also emerged recently that a total of 143 ministerial adviser and driver jobs have been filled since the Government took office on March 9.

There are 30 ministers, including junior ministers, and each would have two civilian drivers, at least one secretary and at least one adviser. Cabinet ministers would have two advisers as a minimum.

Mr Howlin had to give special permission for these posts because of the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service that was introduced at the end of March 2009.

Irish Independent

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