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How will the new Taoiseach fix a problem of his own making?

16 June 2017

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Labour Leader Brendan Howlin TD, has called on the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, to outline how he will address issues surrounding the increased number of 'super-junior' Ministers.

“In seeking to find ways to give a job to every Fine Gael TD that wants one, the new Taoiseach has further increased the number of ‘super-junior’ Ministers. But in doing so, he seems to have paid little attention to the legal constraints on the number of people who can be paid for such roles.

"Under law, the Government may only pay an additional allowance to two Ministers of State who regularly attend Cabinet meetings. 

"In 2016, when two super-junior Ministers were appointed in addition to the Chief Whip, this issue was overcome by creating a new allowance for the position of Chief Whip.

"However, we have now seen the appointment of three super junior Ministers, in addition to the chief whip. As two of these (Finian McGrath and Paul Kehoe) are already in receipt of an additional allowance, no lawful allowance can be paid to Mary Mitchell O’Connor in respect of her status as a Minister of State attending Cabinet.

"The question that therefore arises is how Leo Varadkar proposes to address this situation.

"Is he suggesting that one ‘super-junior’ Minister will be paid less than the others, creating a second tier of such positions? Or does he really propose to prioritise legislation to give extra pay increases to Ministers at a time when there are plenty of other issues that should be prioritised?"

Ends

Notes to Editors:

Ministerial, Parliamentary and Judicial Offices and Oireachtas Members (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2001

Amendment of the 1998 Act — insertion of section 3A (allowances payable to certain Ministers of State).

40.—The 1998 Act is amended by inserting the following section after section 3:

“Allowances payable to certain Ministers of State.

3A.—(1) The Government may, by order—

(a) provide for the payment of an annual allowance to not more than 2 specified holders of the office of Minister of State who regularly attend meetings of the Government, and

(b) determine the rate of the allowance, and the date or dates on and from which the allowance is payable.

(2) An order under this section may, if so expressed, have retrospective effect.”.