Social Protection Minister says she will pay back €16k top up

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty has said she will pay back any monies she received as Government chief whip if asked to do so, writes Daniel McConnell.

During her time as chief whip, Ms Doherty received an additional €15,829, but the legalities of the payment have been unclear.

Minister Regina Doherty lays a wreath at the grave of Michael Collins at the 95th Annual Collins/Griffith Commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery.Pic: Maxwells

As a result, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar requested Attorney General Séamus Wolfe to investigate the standing of the payment, which has been forwarded to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe in recent days.

Speaking at the annual Collins Griffith commemoration in Glasnevin cemetery, Ms Doherty said she had not been informed of the outcome of the review, saying she had just returned from her holidays.

However she added: “I have no doubt in my head that I am going to be told to repay it and if I am, I will repay it. It as simple as that.”

Since the formation of the new government, it has come to light that existing legislation only allows for two super junior Ministers to be paid the allowance.

In the previous Cabinet, Minister of State at the Department of Health Finian McGrath and Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe received the additional €15,829, as did Ms Doherty.

The review also examined whether current Government chief whip Joe McHugh and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor should receive the money.

At the time of the appointments, Labour leader and former Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, questioned the legality of the top-up payment.

Mr Howlin said it was bizarre that there was still no clarity “on a situation caused by Fine Gael creating extra jobs to satisfy backbenchers”.

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