A PERSONAL assistant to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who recently found himself in hot water after revealing he had no work to do, is set for a promotion.
Mr Quinn's assistant, Neil Ward, provoked angry responses after it emerged that he posted a picture to microblogging website Twitter of his empty work email inbox.
Mr Ward, whose salary as an assistant is €47,000 a year, wrote alongside the picture: "Perhaps the best feeling in the world #nothingtodo #Friday".
Now the Irish Independent can reveal that Mr Ward is set for promotion to the position of special adviser to the minister -- a role which carries a salary of about €80,000 a year.
It comes after one of Mr Quinn's two current special advisers, John Walshe, decided to take on a more behind-the-scenes role.
Mr Ward's appointment is expected to be signed off on by the Cabinet "very shortly", according to a source.
His salary will be less than the €87,258 a year that Mr Walshe was earning for the job.
"Neil Ward will be appointed to the position of special adviser to the Minister, subject to Cabinet approval.
"Mr Ward will be paid at the lowest point of the approved pay scales for special advisers," a spokesperson for the Minister said.
Mr Ward faced no sanction following the tweet and a spokesperson for the department said at the time that he had written on the site in a personal capacity.
Staff at the department were reportedly "livid" with his actions and claimed it gave "a false portrayal of the workload for everybody else".
"At a time when everyone is taking a hit, this is disgraceful," a source said.
The department moved to distance itself from the controversial post, saying Mr Ward's "comments do not reflect those of the department".
Mr Ward, a Labour party member, was appointed as a personal secretary to the Minister for Education and Skills in April 2011.
Last September, he was promoted to the position of personal assistant with a salary of about €47,300.
The Twitter controversy emerged as Mr Quinn announced fresh powers to tackle underperforming teachers.
Teachers had to be deemed "unfit to teach" before the Teaching Council could impose sanctions such as removing a member of staff from the teaching register.
But Mr Quinn intends to revise existing guidelines to give the council a menu of options to deal with teachers who are underperforming.