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Ministers' special advisers earn combined €2.5m per year

The 15 members of cabinet have appointed 27 advisers between them, earning salaries starting at €80,051 a year.

The Fine Gael-Labour cabinet meets for the first time in March. Its 15 members employ 27 special advisers at an annual cost of around €2.5m.
The Fine Gael-Labour cabinet meets for the first time in March. Its 15 members employ 27 special advisers at an annual cost of around €2.5m.
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS published details of the people occupying the plum jobs as special advisers in each government department – earning combined salaries of almost €2.5 million a year.

The 27 senior advisers each earn a minimum of €80,051, with the best-earning advisers in the Department of An Taoiseach earning a weighty €168,000 per year – just less than full members of the cabinet itself.

Details of the appointments, who form each minister’s “kitchen cabinet” and work in parallel to the civil servants in each government department, were published by each minister this week in response to parliamentary questions from Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher.

All but one of the 15 members of cabinet have appointed advisers – Social Protection minister Joan Burton said she had not yet finalised the appointments in her own department.

The chief whip, Paul Kehoe, also has a adviser whose salary has not yet been finalised.

All ministers are entitled to appoint two advisers, while the Taoiseach is entitled to appoint four and the Tánaiste three.

Among Enda Kenny advisers are Fine Gael policy chiefs Mark Kennelly and Andrew McDowell, while Eamon Gilmore’s include his Labour handlers Mark Garrett and Colm O’Reardon.

The advisers and their salaries in full

Department of An Taoiseach

  • Mark Kennelly (€168,000)
  • Andrew McDowell (€168,000)
  • Paul O’Brien (€80,051)
  • Angela Flanagan (€80,051)

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Mark Garrett (tbc)
  • Jean O’Mahony (€80,051)
  • Colm O’Reardon (tbc)

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

  • Fergal Leamy (€130,000)
  • Aine Kilroy (€80,051)

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

  • Jennifer Carroll Mac Neill (€80,051)
  • Marion Mannion (€80,051)

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

  • Finbarr O’Malley (€83,337)
  • Simon Nugent (€97,200)

Department of Education and Skills

  • John Walshe (€92,672)
  • Deirdre Grant (tbc)

Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation

  • Conor Quinn (€80,051)

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

  • Claire Langton (€80,051)

Department of Finance

  • Mary Kenny (€83,337)

Department of Health

  • Mark Costigan (€80,051)
  • Sean Faughnan (€80,051)

Department of Justice, Equality and Defence

  • Jane Lehane (€80,051)
  • Tom Cooney (€80,051)

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

  • Anne Byrne (€83,337)
  • Ronan O’Brien (€114,000)

Department of Social Protection

  • None as yet

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

  • Nick Miller (€80,051)
  • Brian Murphy (€80,051)

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Gavan Reilly

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