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Monday 20 May 2019

McGuinness's son claimed 22 weeks of overtime in a year

Andrew McGuinness celebrates his election to Kilkenny Borough Council with his mother Margaret, father John (TD) and brother John
Andrew McGuinness celebrates his election to Kilkenny Borough Council with his mother Margaret, father John (TD) and brother John

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE son of the chairman of the Dail spending watchdog claimed he worked the equivalent of almost 22 weeks' overtime in one year while in a job given to him by his father.

Andrew McGuinness worked as his father's personal secretary in the Department of Enterprise when Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, now chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), was a junior minister in the department.

The overtime claims were signed off by civil servants in the department, and amounted to a total of €30,817 in a single year (2008) – with almost all of the work done in his father's constituency office in Kilkenny.

Documents released to the Irish Independent under the Freedom of Information Act show that Andrew McGuinness claimed 877.25 hours that year.

Individual dockets submitted by Mr McGuinness showed the amount of weekly overtime varied from six hours to almost 24 hours. They also showed overtime was claimed for 51 weeks of the year, with nothing claimed around Christmas.

The highest overtime claim was for 23.5 hours in the week ending February 8, 2008.

Normal working hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, with a minimum of a half hour usually taken for lunch. Anything outside this is counted as overtime, including any work on a Saturday.

Andrew McGuinness was on a basic salary of €42,000 and, in total, he claimed €48,273 in overtime during his almost two years in the department, and a total of €71,353 in overtime, mileage and subsistence.

Mr McGuinness worked most Saturdays, according to his overtime dockets, whether for a full day or half day.

He was also a member of Kilkenny Borough Council at the time, and would have had a workload arising from his duties.

Both he and his father have insisted the extra workload was because of a staff shortage caused by another member of staff going on maternity leave.

John McGuinness told the PAC earlier this summer: "There was difficulty getting appropriately skilled staff to take up positions in the office. There was, therefore, a turnover of staff and a difficulty there and the people who worked directly for me prior to the maternity leave being taken had to provide cover.

"In addition to constituency and other work, they were expected to do departmental work because they were dealing with delegations which came in and out of the office. They also dealt with information technology issues that emerged in the office at that time."

Andrew McGuinness did not return calls last night but he previously told 'The Kilkenny People': "The work in our already-busy constituency office more than doubled when my father was made a minister and coupled with department work from his office the task was considerable.

"During that year, a very competent member of our staff was on maternity leave and there was lengthy delays and difficulty getting the staff we needed from the department, on top of which there were IT problems.

"The figure for 2008 is high because we were understaffed, my father and the office were under pressure and, in consequence, the hours we were working were very long."

The overtime claimed by Mr McGuinness for 2007, after his father was appointed as a junior minister in June of that year, was 180 hours, worth €5,817. And he claimed €11,648 for 330 hours between January and April 2009, when his father lost his post when then Taoiseach Brian Cowen reduced the number of junior ministers.

John McGuinness has previously been involved in controversy over the €250,000 cost of kitting out his ministerial office, although the Office of Public Works said it had no contact with Mr McGuinness over the cost or kit out of the office.

Other staff in Mr McGuinness's office also claimed overtime, with personal assistant Anne Bergin getting €5,337 in 2007; €20,229 for 541 hours claimed in 2008; and €4,042 in 2009.

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Irish Independent

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