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New legislation required for Minister Mitchell O'Connor to receive extra €16k allowance

Mitchell O’Connor lost her role as a senior minister at the cabinet table in Leo Varadkar’s reshuffle.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

NEW LEGISLATION WILL be required to allow Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor hold the role of super junior minister in Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s cabinet.

Minister for Finance Pachal Donohoe confirmed that the legislation would be required to ensure Mitchell O’Connor receives an extra allowance of over €16,000 as a super junior minister on top of the salary for Minister for State.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News At One, Donohoe said that it was “correct to say that legislation would be required for additional wages, and allowances” to allow Mitchell O’Connor secure the income of a super junior minister.

Before Varadkar’s reshuffle, there were already two super junior ministers, and the legislation would need to be changed to permit another.

minister of state a Information from the Oireachtas website, with the extra salaried allowance for Minister of State included at the bottom. Source: Oireachtas.ie

Donohoe said that he could think of few people better qualified for the new role Dun Laoghaire TD will hold due to her “lifelong career and passion for education”. Mitchell O’Connor had held the role as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Employment in Enda Kenny’s last cabinet.

Sinn Féin were critical of the need to bring forward new legislation to ensure Mitchell O’Connor receives the allowance.

David Cullinane TD said that the “pay rise” comes at a time “when public sector workers are being told to ditch any claim for equal pay for equal work”.

The Dun Laoghaire TD was the only senior minister not to retain a position as a senior minister, with the exception of Michael Noonan who elected to leave finance, in Varadkar’s reshuffle.

Reacting to her appointment, Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne said he was deeply disappointed with how the junior minister position was created.

He accused the government of coming up with it “at the last minute”  and show that the “Taoiseach had no intention of creating this portfolio and the decision was taken as an afterthought”.

Mitchell O’Connor had come under fire for the work she had done in her role as Minister for Jobs by other members of Fine Gael in the past.

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Speaking to Fora at a jobs announcement earlier in the year, however, Mitchell O’Connor responded to critics and said that the continuing fall in the unemployment rate is evidence that she is performing well:

My own performance is (a) 6.6% unemployment rate. That’s my performance. When I started, it was much higher.

“It’s getting the job done, that’s what’s important,” she added.

Mitchell O’Connor has also come under fire for her handling of various issues, notably the planned axing of the Connect Ireland scheme.

Speaking to Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ Radio 1  in January about the criticism she’s faced, she said that it had affected her parents a great deal.

“I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t [hurt], it does, it’s hurtful,” she said.

It comes with the job, ministers get criticism all the time, I can take that. Who it really hurts are my parents. I could get a phone call at six o’clock in the morning from my mother who didn’t sleep all night [because of it].

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Sean Murray

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