Backbenchers in line for plum jobs

FIANNA Fáil backbenchers are due to be promoted to plum committee jobs worth thousands of euro in extra pay in coming days.

Several lucrative positions have fallen vacant since five TDs were appointed to junior minister portfolios last week.

New Minister of State Peter Power had been chairman of the influential Justice, Equality & Law Reform Committee as well as a sitting member of others.

Promoted rural deputies John Moloney and Michael Finneran also chaired committees while Martin Mansergh was a vice-chairman.

Each committee chairman receives an annual stipend of €20,000 on top of his or her Dáil salary, while deputy chairmen each pocket an extra €10,000.

Delegations from the committees may also travel abroad on fact-finding missions related to their area of responsibility.

Chairman positions are currently vacant on all-party bodies with responsibility for Justice, Equality & Law Reform; Health & Children and Finance and Public Services.

Other high-profile member positions are available on the Committee on the Constitution and the Committee for the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is in discussion with government chief whip Pat Carey about the positions and is expected to allocate them to Fianna Fáil parliamentary party members shortly.

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