A LABOUR TD has been forced to defend the decision to employ her partner as a staff member after one of her own party colleagues described the practice as "disgraceful".
Dublin Mid West TD Joanna Tuffy has been strongly criticised by a Labour local election candidate over her decision to hire her partner, Philip Long, as an assistant.
Ken Kinsella, who is running in the Clondalkin Ward in Dublin, has called on all election candidates to take a "nepotism pledge" ahead of polling day.
His remarks prompted a terse response from Ms Tuffy, who accused her own party colleague of "grandstanding".
"To be honest, what Ken is saying is complete rubbish. The fact is, you often get people in politics who have family members who are extremely active," she told the Irish Independent.
"My partner has been in the Labour Party for longer than I have. You employ people on the basis of experience and I don't see anything wrong with what I'm doing," she added.
Mr Kinsella said that while he was not singling out Ms Tuffy in his criticism, he believed her decision to hire her partner was "wrong" and "unfortunate".
"Many people, such as myself, are struggling to make ends meet and to provide for our families, and it causes great annoyance to people that some politicians are taking advantage of their position to arbitrarily employ spouses, siblings or children as their employees, and are simply improving the financial health of their families," he said.
"These employees are all paid for by the taxpayer, and I think it should be ended."