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Kenny hands his team over €31k in pay perks

Advisers and secretaries working directly for the Taoiseach have been handed salary top-ups of more than €31,000.

Taxpayer money is being used to boost the pay of at least 13 Enda Kenny's staff members, including the Government press secretary.

Despite being in the job for just over a year, several of the Taoiseach's spin doctors and personal staff members are enjoying significant salary top-ups. Government press secretary Feargal Purcell saw his salary rise rise to €119,795 -- a €3,500 increase.

Meanwhile, his deputy press secretary and former broadcaster, Cathy Madden, has enjoyed a €2,941 increase. Her salary is now €99,236.


Other senior department staff members have also reaped the benefits of the Government's controversial decision to grant salary top-ups.

The assistant Government press secretary, Joanne Lonergan, saw her wages rise by €3,294 to €89,898. And, as revealed by the Herald in April, the process of top-ups will continue for years -- meaning some staff will see their salaries smash the Government's own self-imposed pay cap.

They come after it was revealed that Mr Kenny played a significant role in securing a €127,000 pay deal for ministerial adviser Ciaran Conlon.

Mr Kenny was elected on the promise of ending the 'jobs for the boys' era.

There is already considerable Coalition unrest over the issue of increments, with a senior minister this week admitting that she would be willing to consider changing the rules.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said she was "open to" finding ways at reducing the costs associated with running ministerial offices.

The pay issue sparked a walk-out at one Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.

But it's not only the press secretaries who are benefiting from the controversial increment top-up scheme at the Taoiseach's department.

Two of Mr Kenny's special advisers, Angela Flanagan and Paul O'Brien, enjoyed top-ups of ¤3,286 -- bringing their salaries to ¤83,337.


And six personal employees also saw their salaries rise by more than ¤2,000.

In total, at least 13 staff members of Mr Kenny's team have been handed pay rises -- amounting to over ¤31,000 between them.

The Government has constantly defended increments, claiming they are completely in line with in-place guidelines.