Tánaiste Joan Burton staff salaries up to €52k more than pay cap

Tánaiste Joan Burton has claimed there is nothing wrong with two of her senior advisers being paid up to €52,000 more than strict pay caps allow because the salaries are still lower than under previous governments.

Tánaiste Joan Burton staff salaries up to €52k more than pay cap

The Labour leader was forced to defend the salaries of her chief of staff, Ed Brophy, and her economic adviser, Terry Quinn, after it emerged their pay packets, of €144,550 and €114,424, respectively, exceed the €92,672 ceiling set when the Coalition came to office.

The figures, revealed by Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea last night, show Mr Brophy is earning €51,878 more than the cut-off point introduced by the Government in 2011.

He joined Ms Burton’s backroom team in late 2011 as a special adviser on a €127,796 salary, before being promoted to the role of chief of staff in July 2014.

Mr Quinn, who joined as an economic adviser just after the Coalition came to power, is earning €21,752 more than pay-cap rates for special advisers allow.

Mr O’Dea said the figures “illustrate the hypocrisy” of the Government.

Describing the pay-cap breaches as “just another example of this Government saying one thing and then doing another”, Mr O’Dea said plans to reform pay are “in reality just another broken promise” and “galling” for people on social welfare.

A spokesman for Ms Burton last night said the high salaries are justified as Mr Brophy took a 33% pay cut when he came from the private sector and Mr Quinn’s salary is “exactly in line” with his pay level at the Central Bank, from which he was seconded in 2011.

The spokesman said the salaries are “still significantly less” than salaries under the Fianna Fáil-led coalition, “which spent enormous sums on themselves and advisers”.

The Coalition introduced the €92,672 pay cap in 2011 following adviser pay scandals that hit the previous administration. These included €5m for ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s backroom team, including a 119% rise, to €229,918, for his programme manager Gerry Hickey between 1998 and 2009.

However, Fine Gael and Labour ministers have subsequently struggled to stay within the pay ceiling themselves. Environment Minister Alan Kelly, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Communications Minister Alex White, and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney all sought increases for advisers following the summer 2014 cabinet reshuffle.

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