Wife, cousin are 'best team', says FG TD in cronyism row
A FINE Gael TD has defended his decision to hire his wife as his secretary saying there was no one he'd trust more to do the job.
When they enter Leinster House each morning, Brendan Griffin (29) and his wife Roisin make for a unique pairing.
They are the only husband and wife team who are heading to the same office, one to work as a TD and the other to work as her husband's secretary.
"When I go up to Dublin on a Tuesday she comes with me and she goes home on Thursday with me, which is very important from a practical point of view because I always have the services of a secretary by my side," Mr Griffin told the Irish Independent. "In general, I don't think people see it as unusual."
The Kerry South TD said that suggestions that his appointment of his wife and his cousin, Tommy Griffin, as parliamentary adviser smacked of cronyism were unfair and upsetting.
"The trust element is huge and that's not just me. She's trusted as well by members of the public and even before any of this became an issue people were calling the office in Dublin and they were delighted when they realised it was Roisin. . . answering the phone," he said.
He said his cousin had been his campaign manager over the last three elections.
"I've had to disclose their backgrounds and that should not have to be the case. Anyone else in those jobs won't have their backgrounds disclosed to the public.
"It's far different from, let's say, if I had been in a position to, and appointed Roisin or Tommy to a state board but some sections of the media have portrayed this in a similar light and I think that's unfair."
However, he insists that apart from "one or two" anonymous emails accusing him of being "the same as Fianna Fail", overwhelmingly people in his home constituency have commended him for "picking the best team".
"Roisin gave up a full-time job to take this job. This job is slightly better paid but in her previous job she didn't have travelling expenses and other costs," he said.
He pointed out that if he were in politics for the money he would not have voluntarily taken a 50pc cut in salary.
"The fact of the matter is that my office as a TD will cost €250,000 less to run over the next five years than any other TD's office.
"We have a mortgage and we have loans like any other couple our age. . . and not to have made the salary commitment would have been a very tempting thing to do and I think it's very disingenuous then for people to accuse us of being greedy," he said.