Ministers' civilian drivers still being paid despite being replaced

Senior Government sources have confirmed that there is no provision in the drivers' contracts for them being stood down on security grounds.
Ministers' civilian drivers still being paid despite being replaced

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the total cost of employing his two civilian drivers was €85,094, excluding PRSI. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Ministers' civilian drivers, who were replaced by garda protection officers in recent weeks, are still being paid because of an issue with their severance packages.

The group of civilian drivers already replaced and who are those about to be replaced are contracted to remain in their positions until their minister is either sacked or resigns.

However, several senior Government sources have confirmed “an issue” around the severance terms for the civilian drivers has now arisen, as there is no provision in their contracts for them being stood down on security grounds.

As a result, even though their services are no longer required, a mechanism to break their contract and address their redundancy terms has yet to be finalised by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The news comes as several senior Cabinet ministers have voiced their preference to retain their civilian drivers rather than have to let them go.

As revealed by the Irish Examiner last month, on foot of a security review by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, it was initially advised that ministers Paschal Donohoe, Michael McGrath, and Stephen Donnelly should immediately get Garda protection drivers.

It is proposed that all Cabinet ministers, including the three super junior ministers who attend Cabinet, should also get Garda protection, meaning their civilian drivers will be made redundant.

At a meeting of ministerial advisors last week, it was stated by the Taoiseach’s chief of staff Deirdre Gillane that a package for those drivers being let go was being advanced.

It is understood that among the ministers who have expressed a preference to retain their current civilian drivers are Education Minister Norma Foley, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.

In replies to parliamentary questions from Social Democrats leader Catherine Murphy, Mr McGrath said civilian drivers are appointed on a temporary basis by the relevant department for a period co-terminus with the relevant officeholder, or for other stated reasons.

Mr Donnelly confirmed in his response to Ms Murphy that his drivers were being replaced.

“In January 2022, two Garda drivers and a vehicle were assigned by An Garda Síochána to provide these services for the minister and will replace the services of the civilian drivers,” he said.

During 2021, he said the total cost of employing his two civilian drivers was €85,094, excluding PRSI.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

  • 4
  • 13
  • 30
  • 40
  • 45
  • 47
  • 11

Full Lotto draw results »