Majority of Government departments used unpaid interns
More than half of all Government departments have operated unpaid internships within the past five years.
Nine out of 17 departments confirmed they are either using or have used unpaid interns since August 2014, although one department said it had ceased offering unpaid internships earlier this year following consultation with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The information is contained in a series of replies to a parliamentary question by Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy, who has called on all public bodies to end the practice.
Ms Murphy said the Social Democrats was "absolutely in favour of ending unpaid internships".
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said her department no longer facilitated unpaid internships and had stopped the practice following consultations with the WRC.
Ms Madigan said 17 students had worked as unpaid interns in the department since 2015 "to honour a prior commitment made in good faith".
The eight departments which said they had not made any use of unpaid interns were Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Agriculture, Rural and Community Affairs, Health, Defence, and the Department of the Taoiseach. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said arrangements which may be described as internships, other than the JobBridge Scheme which closed to new applicants in 2016, are not defined by Irish legislation.
"Whether or not a contract of employment is in place will depend on the individual circumstances of the internship," it said.
The department advised anyone with questions to contact the WRC.