TDS HAVE ASKED authorities in Leinster House to examine whether it might be possible for the Oireachtas to recruit JobBridge interns on their behalf – after being advised they cannot hire them individually.
Both ordinary members and committee chairmen have complained that dwindling numbers of staff within Leinster House mean TDs cannot do their jobs as effectively as possible – and say recruiting unemployed people to help them could solve the problem.
Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness said today that the three-person team which works full-time on committee business was struggling to keep up with its workload.
He suggested that the recruitment of JobBridge interns – who are paid €50 per week on top of their usual dole payments – could be a novel way of helping Oireachtas business to run more smoothly at minimal cost to the State.
Fine Gael back-bench TD Eoghan Murphy told TheJournal.ie he had previously tried to recruit an intern under the JobBridge scheme but couldn’t, because TDs cannot themselves be an employer.
“Yesterday I put up an ad for an intern – I could use an intern for Public Accounts Committee work alone,” he said this evening.
“The two staff I already have are already being used in other parliamentary work. I can’t pay them – I’ll buy them lunch, but they won’t be getting any money from us.
It would be far better if the JobBridge scheme was available – why not get someone who is out of work, and allow them to work, while getting the €50 top-up per week?
Murphy pointed out that the Dáil planned to sit more frequently in the coming months, and had already doubled the amount of legislation it published every year.
“But in terms of staff for TDs we only have two per TD – among the lowest in the world,” he said. “We have to be effective parliamentarians and to do that we need proper resources.”
Dáil clerk Kieran Coughlan – who is in charge of all administrative business in Leinster House – said the Oireachtas “could look at” the proposal, potentially being able to hire interns on behalf of individual TDs.
He noted, however, that there were already issues regarding the volume of “human traffic” in some parts of the building, and that it may not be feasible for the Oireachtas to take on significant numbers of extra staff.
Should TDs be able to hire interns through the JobBridge scheme?