Mary Lou McDonald has said she is "astounded and gobsmacked" by the decision to hire more Government advisors at a time when the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has been cut.
The Cabinet has agreed that 10 Ministers of State will now get advisors, this is despite the fact that it had been previously agreed that junior ministers would pool staff.
Hitting out at the decision, the Sinn Féin leader told the Dáil this decision must be "reviewed immediately and reversed".
'Taoiseach, that you would cut the PUP payment for workers at a time when tens of thousands are out of work & more were laid off on Friday is extraordinary. I daresay your Junior Ministers' 10 new special advisors will be on an awful lot more than €350 a week' – @MaryLouMcDonald pic.twitter.com/uPBvDq5Jvu— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) September 22, 2020
Ms McDonald said: "This being done at a time when he is cutting payments to people in real difficulty who have lost their jobs. If this is the case it is outrageous and I ask him [the Taoiseach] to clarify this matter.
"At a time when sectors of the economy are still closed down or are vulnerable to being closed down again when thousands of people are out of work, this is not a time to be cutting the very payment upon which they rely to pay their bills and look after their families.
"This decision needs to be reviewed immediately and reversed."
However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin accused Ms McDonald of "hypocrisy" pointing to the fact that her party employs special advisors in the Northern Ireland Executive.
Mr Martin claimed the Sinn Féin president has been "one of the original enthusiasts" for special advisers and "always has been".
He added: "She has been a long-term advocate of special advisers in politics.
"She has never shown any disdain for them to-date, and her party has not either, so she should stop the hypocrisy on that issue."