ASIDE from the permanent officials, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste have their own core group of politically appointed advisers who wield significant power and influence.
Enda Kenny's main man is a controversial figure in Fine Gael, with many jealous of his close relationship and powerful influence on the Taoiseach. A Kerry native, Mark Kennelly first came to prominence working as an adviser for then Communications Minister Michael Lowry. Kennelly wields huge power and was awarded a salary of €168,000 a year for his trouble.
As Eamon Gilmore's chief of staff, Garrett was a central figure in Labour's record success in the 2011 election, but also allowed the 'Gilmore for Taoiseach' strategy to be rolled out. Highly respected, the UCD graduate has a tough task in preventing a Labour wipeout at the next election. He too was appointed on a salary of €168,000.
Fine Gael's main economic guru, Andrew McDowell's influence not just on the Budget but on overall government strategy is significant. A true conservative, McDowell also has played a key role in many of our EU discussions.
Colm O'Reardon/Jean O'Mahony
Awarded a salary of €155,000, Colm, who is a brother of TD Aodhan, worked for the Labour leader since 2002 and became director of policy. Known to write many of Gilmore's speeches, O'Reardon's role within Labour is considerable. Some within Labour have said he has too much sway with Gilmore. Also important in this context is policy adviser Jean O'Mahony who is another central figure. The Trinity graduate played a part in the negotiations to form the Coalition.
Adviser to Brendan Howlin, Ronan O'Brien who advised Ruairi Quinn when he was Labour leader, is another key figure. O'Brien works closely with Watt, Byrne Nason, McDowell and O'Reardon in relation to the EMC.
Former press director for Fine Gael, Ciaran Conlon now works with Richard Bruton as his adviser. Considered to be one of the best political brains within the Blueshirts, despite the exposure of his salary top-up demands in breach of the Government's own pay caps in 2011.
The government press secretary has become an increasingly powerful voice within Enda's kitchen cabinet, albeit from a fairly marginalised space.
The former army press officer and retired army commandant drew criticism when he made a complaint to TV3 over the role of the station's political editor, Ursula Halligan, during a heated doorstep interview which ended with Kenny almost falling into a flower pot.