FINE Gael TD John Perry has said that he only appointed his wife to a €38,000-a-year job to fill "a gap" while he found the right candidate for the job.
The former junior minister has insisted that he did nothing wrong when he recruited his wife as a parliamentary assistant, but nonetheless Marie Perry is to leave her position in mid-April.
It follows public criticism from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.
Mr Perry issued a statement yesterday in which he said that his wife had actually worked "on a purely voluntary basis" for six months before being officially given the role last December.
"There was no cost or charge to the State for the work she carried out during that period," he said, arguing that she was "eminently qualified to fulfil the position".
Mr Perry said that due to a growing workload, from January he decided to appoint her to the job "to bridge the gap until my preferred candidate for the position became available".
He said that a former colleague from his time as junior minister, Thomas Walsh, will take up the assistant job in mid-April.
"Thomas has worked one day a week in my office for the past month, at my own expense," Mr Perry said.