TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore insists he had no involvement in his wife's appointment to a new position in the Department of Education.
It has emerged that Carol Hanney will retain a €117,000 annual salary in Ruairi Quinn's department when her current post at Dun Laoghaire VEC is abolished.
But Ms Hanney will lose a public sector allowance worth around €4,800 which has been abolished as part of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin's clampdown.
Her appointment has sparked a political controversy, with Fianna Fail demanding more information from the Government about the process involved. But Mr Gilmore said: "It's disappointing that some people seem to think that a woman shouldn't have a job or an independent career."
He said that as part of the reduction in the number of VECs from 33 to 16, some of the chief executives were being redeployed in the education system. "She's being treated in exactly the same way as the other CEOs who are being redeployed," he added.
Ms Hanney is due to become a policy specialist on further education and training in the Department of Education, after the VEC is disbanded. Her right to retain a job on the same salary is guaranteed under the Croke Park Agreement.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn also insisted that he and the Tanaiste had no involvement in the appointment.
"The negotiations and the terms and conditions and the specifications of her redeployment as a permanent civil servant, was conducted between senior officials in the Department of Education and Skills and the three people involved," he said.
It had previously been reported that Ms Hanney's new job in the Department of Education would be worth at least €92,000 but annual accounts show that her salary for being Dun Laoghaire VEC chief executive was €117,000 in 2010. However, she also got an additional €4,800 "transport liaison officer" allowance.
The Department of Education said that this allowance had been abolished under the recent cuts in allowances – although it is understood that trade union SIPTU is going to challenge this decision.
Ms Hanney is one of the 19 full-time VEC chief executives but there are only 16 new positions available given the reduction in VEC numbers.
But Fianna Fail education spokesman Charlie McConalogue said he wanted a clear statement clarifying the process which led to Ms Hanney taking on the role in the Department of Education
"This is a role which didn't exist prior to now, for which there were no advertisements, therefore not allowing other people to compete for the role.
"If Minister Quinn or Minister Gilmore had been in opposition, they would have been making immense fuss about any sort of situation like this," he said.
The Department of Education has said that no interviews were carried out for the new position because it was a redeployment arrangement.