John Perry defends hiring wife as parliamentary assistant

Former FG minister says his wife will step down from role on his political staff next month

Fine Gael TD for Sligo-North Leitrim John Perry: statement  issued after it was reported his wife began working for him as parliamentary assistant in January 2015.

Fine Gael TD for Sligo-North Leitrim John Perry: statement issued after it was reported his wife began working for him as parliamentary assistant in January 2015.

 

Former minister of State John Perry has defended the appointment of his wife to the position of his parliamentary assistant and says she will step down within the next month.

Mr Perry, a Fine Gael TD for Sligo-North Leitrim, issued a statement about the matter on Friday. It came after Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was “unwise” of TDs and senators to employe family members.

Mr Perry, who lost his job as minister of State for small business in a reshuffle last July, said his wife took the role after his previous parliamentary assistant decided to pursue a new career.

She initially filled the position “on a purely voluntary basis” for a six-month period to December 2014.

Mr Perry said his wife Marie Mulvey was “eminently qualified” to fulfil the role which he said was at “no cost or charge to the State” during the initial six-month period.

However, he added: “In light of the growing work load in my office from January 2015 and the volume of work she was doing, I decided to appoint her to the parliamentary assistant position to bridge the gap until my preferred candidate for the position became available.”

He said that Thomas Walsh, who previously worked with him when he was minister of state would be taking up the position in mid-April.

“Thomas has worked one day a week in my office for the past month, at my own expense,” he said.

Mr Perry is one of dozens of TDs who employ family members on their political staff. The practice, long-established, has become increasingly controversial in recent years.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who said the appointment of family members was not a practice he would support.

“It has been a feature of the Irish political system across the board for quite a long time. There are various reasons for that.

“I think that politicians need to face up to those issues in relation to public perception, procedures involved and so on and so forth,” he said.