Two newly-elected TDs have hired family members as Oireachtas assistants, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Fianna Fáil's Christopher O'Sullivan and Gary Gannon of the Social Democrats have both given taxpayer-funded jobs to siblings.
Cork South-West TD Mr O'Sullivan has two sisters working for him and Mr Gannon, a TD for Dublin Central, has employed his younger brother.
TDs are entitled to hire a parliamentary assistant (PA) and secretarial assistant (SA) to help them in their role as public representatives.
The most recently released salary scale for PAs is between €41,000 and €52,000, while the pay for SAs stood at between €23,000 and €44,000.
Hiring family members is not against Oireachtas rules but the practice has proven highly controversial.
In an Irish Independent survey of all 160 TDs, just three returning deputies from the last Dáil confirmed they still have family members working for them. They are Labour's Seán Sherlock and Independent TDs Seán Canney and Michael Collins.
Several more TDs who hired a relative in the past did not respond. In total 116 TDs replied to say they have no family members working for them.
TDs who did confirm that they had hired family members defended the decision.
Mr O'Sullivan is the son of former Fianna Fáil TD Christy O'Sullivan Snr.
He has hired his sister and campaign manager Anne Cullinane as a part-time PA with her salary worked out on a pro-rata basis. His other sister, Eimear Nelley, a qualified solicitor, is working as his full-time SA.
Mr O'Sullivan said Ms Cullinane is an "extremely experienced political operator". Ms Nelley is a "highly skilled" organiser. He said she is leaving the role in August and he is reviewing CVs to find a suitable successor.
Dublin TD Mr Gannon said his brother Paul is sharing the SA job with Social Democrats councillor Cat O'Driscoll. Paul Gannon works 15 hours a week and is on the lowest grade of the pay scale, Mr Gannon said.
"He has been with me on this journey since the very first door I knocked on. He lives in the inner city, knows the people, and understands the needs of the community more than anyone."
Mr Gannon added: "He is doing a wonderful job and I'm very proud of him."
Cork East TD Mr Sherlock confirmed his sister Una remains his SA. He said her involvement in politics pre-dates his own and he is "proud" and "lucky" to have her working with him. "I'd be lost without her," he added.
Junior Minister Mr Canney said his wife Geraldine is his SA and he said she is "well qualified and has the necessary experience, skill and trust to carry out her duties".
Cork South-West TD Mr Collins said his brother John works as his part-time SA and he had employed him to help out due to the large size of the constituency.
TDs previously reported to have hired family members but who did not respond to the survey include ministers Michael Ring, Ciarán Cannon, Brendan Griffin and Helen McEntee, and fellow Fine Gael TDs Bernard Durkan and Martin Heydon. Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and party colleague John McGuinness did not respond. Independent TDs Mattie McGrath, Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae and Peter Fitzpatrick also failed to respond.
FIANNA Fáil has accused Fine Gael of “bad faith, selfishness and putting party before country” after it emerged that logistical planning to hold elections and referendums during the Covid-19 crisis is underway.