Higgins’ advisers breach pay cap

A breach of the pay cap for two special advisers to President Micheal D Higgins had been approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

However, the pair still earn less than the majority of advisers appointed to ministers following last year’s general election.

The planned salary for the President’s special adviser Mary Van Lieshout was €80,051.

However, it was agreed to retain her salary of €103,472 from her job as head of research and standards development with the National Disability Authority.

Sarah Martin, a former press officer in RTÉ who speaks fluent French and Spanish, had her salary raised from a planned rate of €61,966 to €75,934.

A precedent for breaching pay caps had been set last year when at least nine advisers to cabinet ministers were awarded salaries above the €93,000 limit the coalition parties had promised when taking office.

The most controversial breach was when the Taoiseach gave the green light to sanction a salary of €127,000 for Ciaran Conlon — the former director of communications for Fine Gael and now the special adviser to Richard Bruton, the jobs minister.

Enda Kenny’s former two top aides in Fine Gael, Mark Kennelly and Andrew McDowell, became his advisers, with a salary of €168,000 each.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore appointed Labour’s former director of policy Colm O’Reardon, on a salary of €155,000, and chef de cabinet Mark Garrett, who earns €168,000.


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