Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s 17 backroom staff earn €1.4m annually

Seventeen backroom political personnel in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s department are earning almost €1.4m a year, with a number handed pay rises since entering office.

Documents show the sum is being shared among personal assistants, press secretaries, and special advisers, including three on salaries over the €92,672 public pay cap.

The details were provided to Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall as part of a Dáil parliamentary question response.

The records confirm the Department of the Taoiseach’s chief of staff Mark Kennelly is on €156,380; while special advisers Andrew McDowell, Angela Flanagan, and Paul O’Brien are earning €156,380, €84,706, and €84,706 respectively.

Government press secretary Feargal Purcell gets €115,431, while among other individuals to receive payments are five personal assistants earning between €51,581 and €74,973 a year each and two personal secretaries to the Taoiseach on €45,251 each.

Róisín Shortall
Róisín Shortall

While Mr Kennelly and Mr McDowell took pay cuts from their initial €168,000 salaries, a number of the back-room recipients have benefited from pay increases since taking up the roles.

They include Mr Kenny’s two special advisers Mr O’Brien and Ms Flanagan (up from €80,051 in 2011 to €84,706) and two secretaries (€40,233 to €45,251).

A spokesperson told the Irish Examiner last night despite the near €1.4m total cost “Government has reduced the number and cost of advisers compared to the previous government” and that “salaries above the pay scale are permissible in certain circumstances”.

The salary figures were also detailed as Government fought off an Independent Alliance Dáil no confidence motion in Joan Burton over the appointment of ex-trade union chief David Begg as pensions authority chair.

During last night’s debate, Labour TD Arthur Spring claimed he will reveal the names of people Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross allegedly tried to have added to semi-state boards this morning.

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