Wednesday 26 July 2017

Ministers allocated extra staff to liaise with TDs due to composition of current Dáil

Health Minister Simon Harris, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Housing Minister Simon
Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Health Minister Simon Harris, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Ministers have been allocated extra staff to help liaise with opposition TDs in the Dáil.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Health Minister Simon Harris and Housing Minister Simon Coveney have all been assigned additional staff in their private offices for parliamentary liaison purposes. The staff were allocated to them under a change in the rules for staffing of ministerial offices in response to the results of the General Election, which led to a fragmented Dáil and a minority Government.

Department of Public Expenditure guidelines now allow for 10 staff members in a senior minister's private office - up from eight - if the volume of parliamentary liaison work required warrants such an increase.

Requests for extra staff are approved by the secretary general in the departments.

A Public Expenditure spokeswoman said any extra staff were civil servants and not extra advisers. She added that requests for extra staff were met from within existing departmental allocations and did not incur extra cost to the Exchequer.

A Justice spokesman explained the allocation of the two extra staff to Ms Fitzgerald's office, saying that she had "a very wide area of responsibility" and that she "frequently" spoke on behalf of the Government in the Dáil.

Mr Harris has been assigned two extra staff at clerical officer level. A spokeswoman said the minister's office requested the extra staff due to an increase in activity since the formation of the new Government and the large volume of correspondence being received every day.

Mr Coveney has had one extra staff member - at principal officer level - assigned to his office.

A spokesman said the official had "a programme management role, given the breadth of high priority business to be led by the minister/department, particularly in the areas of housing and water".

Irish Independent

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