Sunday 21 January 2018

Taoiseach denies cover-up until presidential election is over

Brian Hutton

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied covering up a massive investigation into government spending until the presidential election is over.

The comprehensive spending review, carried out by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin's office, was to be completed last month.

It was promised to be a root-and-branch examination of wastage at every government department, state agency and quango.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Mr Kenny of deliberately sitting on the report until after the Aras an Uachtarain election on October 27.

Mr Martin said the Fine Gael/Labour coalition was turning its back on its vow of openness and transparency when in opposition.

But Mr Kenny insisted the only reason the report has not been disclosed is because it has not yet been completed.

The Taoiseach said the scale and complexity of the review meant it could not be wrapped up overnight.

Separately, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said it was "disgraceful" that two of Mr Kenny's special advisers were each earning €168,000 a year, paid for by taxpayers.

Mr Adams challenged Mr Kenny to stand over the salaries after introducing "with great hullabaloo" a salary cap on special advisers at €92,672 earlier this year.

He said the salaries - paid to two of the Taoiseach's four close aides, Mark Kennelly and Andrew McDowell - was nearly three times the average industrial wage.

Mr Adams asked the Taoiseach how he circumvented his own pay ceiling for special advisers.

But Mr Kenny said they were "publicly informed" salaries and substantially less than what some public servants earned in the past.

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