Tuesday 21 October 2014

TD's girlfriend working as barrister and Dail assistant

Published 12/10/2013 | 05:00

Sarah Comiskey with her partner Sean Conlan TD. Ms Comiskey is a parliamentary assistant to Mr Conlan.
Sarah Comiskey leaving Monaghan Courthouse.

A FINE Gael TD's girlfriend is employed as his Dail assistant while also working as a barrister, the Irish Independent has learned.

Sean Conlan is a member of the party's national executive as well as an outspoken group of younger Fine Gael TDs who have called for no let up in austerity.

Mr Conlan's girlfriend, Sarah Comiskey, works as his parliamentary assistant, which comes with a salary of up to €50,000.

She is also a qualified barrister and is currently carrying out legal work – and was in Monaghan Circuit Court as recently as yesterday.

Ms Comiskey, who is in her late 20s, also works from Mr Conlan's constituency office.

Mr Conlan, who is in his late 30s, is also a solicitor and his constituency office adjoins his solicitor's office in his hometown of Ballybay, Co Monaghan.

The solicitor's firm is based upstairs in the same building although there are separate doors onto the street.

The Conlan family pub is situated next door.

Mr Conlan is a member of the so-called Fine Gael 'five-a-side' group of younger TDs who have consistently argued for cuts to public sector pay as well as arguing against a let up in the level of cuts and taxes planned for the Budget.

He was recently elected to the national executive as a parliamentary party representative after former junior minister Lucinda Creighton – who was the representative for TDs and senators – lost the party whip over the abortion legislation.

It was seen as a coup for the 'five-a-side' club to get one of their members elected.

Ms Comiskey is understood to have started work as Mr Conlan's parliamentary assistant in the summer of last year, replacing another worker who left.

Mr Conlan previously told the Irish Independent he "conducted interviews with other persons for the role of PA prior to hiring Ms Comiskey".

However, he did not return calls last night.

There is no prohibition on having another job as well as being a parliamentary assistant.

Ms Comiskey was asked if she feels it is appropriate to be working as a parliamentary assistant and barrister at the same time.

When contacted by the Irish Independent, Ms Comiskey said: "I think I have answered these questions before and I have replied by email to your editor. I don't think there is anything else I need to address. I think I have addressed everything already to be fair.

"I don't see the point in addressing the same question twice. I've already answered that."

In her email response to the Irish Independent , Ms Comiskey did not address the question about whether it was correct to work as a parliamentary assistant and a barrister at the same time, given the current jobs crisis.

The Bar Council's code of conduct states "barristers are permitted to engage in any part-time occupation that is not inconsistent with the code of conduct".

 

- Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Irish Independent

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