Ministers' constituency staff cost €4m a year

Thu, Nov 8, 2007, 00:00

The Cabinet and Ministers of State have nearly 130 civil servants and privately-recruited staff working solely on constituency queries, costing the exchequer at least €4 million annually.

The figures, were released to Fine Gael Dublin West TD Leo Varadkar, who put questions down to each department.

Eight civil servants, costing €249,750 a year, and one non-civil servant, costing €36,276, handled Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's Dublin Central constituency business in 2006.

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen has five staff dealing with his constituency business in his Dublin and Tullamore offices, costing €229,000 a year.

Minister for Health Mary Harney has two clerical officer-grade civil servants and one other person to deal with constituency matters, costing €119,000.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has two civil servants, who can earn up to €48,000 and €37,000 respectively; and three other staff, who earn about €150,000, for constituency affairs.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has one privately-hired secretary and one civil servant based in his constituency office, who can each earn a maximum of €52,000 and €36,000 respectively, and three civil servants in his Iveagh House office for constituency business - though one of them works half-time.

Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin has three civil servants, who earned a total of €102,000 last year, and three more personally-recruited staff, who earned a further €102,000 to deal with constituency cases.

Minister for Arts Séamus Brennan has two personal staff and one executive grade, one staff officer grade and one clerical officer grade civil servant on full-time constituency business, along with another civil servant who job-shares half time.

Minister for Social and Family Affairs Martin Cullen has three non-civil servants, costing €160,000 a year, and two civil servants, who earn €85,000 more, for constituency business.

Eamon Ó Cuív, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, has five constituency staff, three of whom are civil servants who earned €95,000 last year, while the two non-civil servants were paid €100,940.

Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan did not have the information ready in time to reply to Mr Varadkar.

Minister for Education Mary Hanafin has five full-time constituency staff, and another on half-time, who cost €220,000 last year. Two of them are not civil servants.

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea has six civil servants working on his constituency staff - who can earn a maximum cumulatively of €281,000, and a non-civil servant who can earn a maximum of €42,571.

Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has three civil servants working in his constituency office, including one higher executive officer, who can earn a maximum of €47,980.

Two clerical officers, who can earn up to €37,652, and two non-civil servants, who can earn a maximum of €98,000, are also employed there to deal with representations from Mr Lenihan's Dublin West constituency.

"The staffing levels of the private and constituency offices listed above, both mine and those of the Ministers of State, comply with the Department of Finance guidelines on the staffing of ministerial offices," Mr Lenihan told Mr Varadkar.

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley has seven staff working in his private office on ministerial duties and four more in his constituency office. He does not give a breakdown of the costs of running the constituency office on its own. The total cost between June and October for the 11 was €239,000.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan has three constituency staff: one higher executive officer who earns a maximum of €52,379; one executive officer who can earn up to €48,594 and one clerical officer, who earns between €23,221 and €37,652.