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Enda Kenny defends appointment of former advisor to €127,000 post

The Taoiseach personally intervened to ensure that his former advisor received a salary €35,000 higher than the current salary cap for advisors.

Image: Screengrab via HEAnet

ENDA KENNY HAS defended the appointment of his former advisor to a government job with a salary of €127,000.

The Taoiseach personally intervened to ensure that Ciaran Conlon received a salary €35,000 higher than the current salary cap for advisors.

In a heated exchange in the Dáil this afternoon the Taoiseach hit back at Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who questioned why an exception had been made for Conlon.

Kenny told the Dáil that Conlon had a relevant Master’s degree and political experience which made him suitable for the position, saying that “in particular circumstances… technical expertise was required” to fulfill the role.

Conlon, who was an advisor to Enda Kenny for eight years, is now an advisor to Richard Bruton, the Minister for Jobs and Enterprise.

“He was chosen for a specific purpose of getting people off the dole,” said Kenny, adding:  ”Yes, I did to my duty in respect of sanctioning that advisory position”.

In a fraught exchange the Taoiseach attacked Gerry Adams for raising the issue, citing the expenses claimed by Sinn Féin TDs in the British parliament.

“I understand that in the two year period to the end of this March, the Sinn Féin MPs claimed £969,328,” said Kenny.

And you, sir, claimed £106,880 for staff in a parliament for which you never attended.

Adams had questioned why the Taoiseach had personally intervened to ensure a pay rise of €35,000 for a “political crony” while other citizens had their incomes and services slashed.

“To give one citizen €35,000 extra and then to take money away from those that are most vulnerable is absolutely and totally wrong. How can you make a difference between one citizen and another?” asked Adams.

“It’s not fair. It’s wrong. And you know that it’s wrong”.

It emerged at the weekend that the Taoiseach had personally written an email to ask for his former advisor Ciaran Conlon to be awarded an annual salary of €127,000.

The figure was a pay rise of €35,000 – and was a significant increase on the €92,000 cap on salaries of special advisors that the current government has implemented.

Earlier in the Dáil the Taoiseach had defended the cuts to disability allowance, saying that it would only affect new claimants.

Kenny said that the change would standardise levels of social welfare payments across the board, making disability allowance available at the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Disability payments have been cut by up to €88 per week for people aged 18 to 24.

Kenny was responding to criticism from Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin who accused the government of “concentrating your cuts disproportionately”.

Martin said that young people with disabilities need help and support, which could not be achieved by reducing their incomes so dramatically.

Read more: Taoiseach breaches pay cap to award former advisor €35k pay rise >

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