€3m a year for backroom ministerial media advisers

Backroom ministerial media advisers are taking home salaries worth more than €3m a year, despite concerns over the stability of the Government and the limited amount of legislation passed since the general election.

Details released under the Freedom of Information Act show, since February general election, 37 officials tasked with advising cabinet members have shared the lucrative sum.

The rate, which involves individual salaries ranging from €79,000 to €156,000 a year, includes significant incomes for former TV3 news anchor Alan Cantwell, ex-housing charity chief executive Bob Jordan, and a handful of others receiving incomes above the State pay ceiling after exceptional requests were made.

And while the figures are still far below the boomtime sums provided to Fianna Fáil advisers, they are likely to draw criticism due to the limited amount of legislation passed, since, by the Dáil.

According to the figures, chief of staff of the Department of the Taoiseach Mark Kennelly, continues to receive the highest adviser salary of any back-room official at €156,380, with government press secretary Fearghal Purcell on €115,431.

They are followed by one of Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar’s two advisers, Brian Murphy who, at €99,370, is in receipt of an exemption allowing a higher pay scale, and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s advisor Marion Mannion, on €93,297.

Mr Cantwell, meanwhile, who is advising Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, and Health Minister Simon Harris’s chief adviser Majella Fitzpatrick, are among the next highest with each receiving €91,624.

The lowest salaries provided to advisers stand at €79,401.

However, among others to be receiving sums higher than the baseline are former Threshold housing charity chief Bob Jordan for his work with Housing Minister Simon Coveney (€88,936) and a number of former Fine Gael press office officials, who left their former posts after the general election.

Figures previously obtained by the Irish Examiner show that when Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s full back-room team of Mr Kennelly, Mr Purcell, special advisers Angela Flanagan and Paul O’Brien, five personal assistants, and two personal secretaries are taken into account, his office’s total salary amounts to more than €1.4m.

Overall, Mr Varadkar’s two advisers earn €186,628, Mr Coveney’s pair earn €167,606, Frances Fitzgerald’s team of three earn €252,099, and two others with Paschal Donohoe receive €165,174.


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