FF criticises €80,000 appointment of fourth special adviser to Gilmore


Seanad report:It was astounding that the Tánaiste had seen fit to appoint a fourth special adviser at a salary that could have paid for about 8,000 home-care hours, Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien said.

The €80,000 annual cost of Niamh Sweeney’s appointment brought to more than €500,000 the overall bill for personal advisers in Eamon Gilmore’s department.

In the light of this, the Labour Party’s pre-election manifesto made what could only be described as amusing reading, promising as it did to invest additional funds in community and step-down care to free up acute hospital beds.

Fine Gael had given a similar undertaking, yet the Government was presiding over 950,000 hours of home-care cuts this year. This latest appointment would increase the anger of people over cuts affecting the most vulnerable in our society.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he would pursue his quest to get the board of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation to impose a cut in wages and salaries, notwithstanding the board’s contention that this would not be appropriate in view of, among other things, the need to retain key staff.

The Minister was responding to John Whelan (Lab), who said people were perplexed at what they saw as Government inaction in relation to what was viewed as excessive pay and pensions entitlements paid from the public purse, particularly in the banking sector but also across the board in the public sector, “and, indeed in the political ranks”.

Mr Noonan said he regarded his engagement with IBRC on the salaries as an initial exchange of correspondence with the chairman. He intended to move this matter on. A pay review was being conducted in relation to all of the covered institutions and he would act on the report when he received it.

Members in both Government parties called for a public inquiry into the unsolved death of Fr Niall Molloy in Clara, Co Offaly, 27 years ago.

Senator Whelan said he was calling on the Minister to instigate without delay a commission of inquiry into the death and subsequent cover-up and a botched investigation.