Many TDs employing family in Dáil posts
LABOUR MINISTER of State Seán Sherlock and Minister of State for Housing and Planning Willie Penrose, along with Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett of Fine Gael, are among the many TDs who have family members working for them as assistants.
People Before Profit TD Joan Collins’s partner Dermot Connolly, previously a party organiser, is one of two people job-sharing the parliamentary assistant’s role in the new deputy’s office.
TDs are entitled to engage one secretarial assistant with a “starting salary” of €23,180, and a parliamentary assistant with a “starting salary” of €41,092.
When deputies are elevated to ministerial positions, staff they bring with them are paid by the relevant Government department rather than the Oireachtas, according to an Oireachtas spokesman.
Mr Sherlock’s sister, Úna Willis, is employed as a secretarial assistant based in his Cork East constituency office. “My sister has worked with me since I was a councillor in 2003, and worked with my late father [former TD Joe Sherlock] prior to that time, so she has been part of the organisation for quite a number of years,” Mr Sherlock said. “I’m damned lucky to have her,” he added.
Mr Sherlock’s party colleague Mr Penrose confirmed his brother worked for him. “My brother Johnnie Penrose continues as my parliamentary assistant, as he has been for the past six years or so,” he said.
Mr Barrett’s daughter Jaci is employed as his assistant. Mr Barrett said his staffing arrangements were the same as in the 30th Dáil and were already a matter of public record.
Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle (Wicklow) confirmed his sister Eithne had job-shared the parliamentary assistant role since summer 2007.
“As a graduate of the University of Limerick in the area of politics and European studies she is qualified for the job and she’s there on merit,” Mr Doyle said.
Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan’s son Tim works in his Dáil office as an assistant. Labour TD for Kildare South Jack Wall confirmed that his son Mark is his parliamentary secretary and has been working with him since 2006.
Labour TD Michael McCarthy (Cork South-West), who served as a senator prior to the recent general election, said: “In terms of a secretarial assistant, my first cousin has been in this position since 2005. His name is Kevin McCarthy.”
Fine Gael deputy Alan Farrell (Dublin North) said he had taken on his wife, Emma Doyle, as a temporary parliamentary assistant, “in order to help me set up my office in Leinster House and to clear a large backlog of constituency correspondence”.
He said recruitment for both the parliamentary and secretarial assistants was ongoing.
Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin of Fine Gael has hired his wife Roisín as his secretarial assistant and his cousin Tommy as his parliamentary assistant.
Mr Griffin’s constituency colleague Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae was previously employed by his father, former deputy Jackie Healy-Rae, in his Kerry South constituency office.
Independent Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy said she had hired both a secretarial assistant and a parliamentary assistant, but neither was in a position to take up the job immediately.
“As an interim measure I have hired for a period of five weeks a family member, my daughter, in the post of parliamentary assistant,” Ms Murphy said.
Neither of the people who will eventually fill the positions are related to her, she added.
Long-serving Labour TD Emmet Stagg said he did not employ any family members but would have no problem doing so, “if they were the best people for the job”.