BY KEN FOXE
FIANNA Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan said a payment of €9,681 to his son for secretarial work had been a temporary arrangement due to delays in hiring full-time staff because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Moynihan said his son – also Aindrias – had worked for him in one of his constituency offices in the period following the last general election.
Records from the Oireachtas detail four separate payments to his son between August and October last year, totalling €9,681.
The payments were made using the special secretarial allowance, which allows TDs, senators, and ministers pay for PR advice, consultancy, IT support, and secretarial help.
The Macroom TD said: ‘Payments relate to temporary secretarial support provided in one of my constituency offices by my son for part of [the] time while I was hiring new staff. The hiring process was delayed with Covid restrictions and new full-time staff were in place in autumn.’
The payments were amongst more than €670,000 in bills incurred by TDs and senators in the period between June last year and this January. Mr Moynihan was not alone among Fianna Fáil politicians hiring family members and Clare Sen Timmy Dooley also paid his wife Emer €10,400 for secretarial work.
Senator Dooley said his wife had been paid for ‘secretarial work which she carries out at my constituency office in Ennis, 9.30 to 5, five days a week.’
Minister of State Anne Rabbitte hired the well-known writer and actress Stefanie Preissner through the secretarial allowance.
Oireachtas records list payments worth €6,154 to Ms Preissner for public relations advice.
In a statement, Minister Rabbitte said: ‘I hired Stefanie as everyone knows she’s a great communicator and I knew it was crucial to develop these skills for myself in my new role as Minister for Disabilities.
‘I knew this was work she has done in the past and I think it has helped me become a better communicator. I also think it has helped to ensure my constituents and people in the disability community are kept informed of what I’m doing.’
Other payments included €7,950 from Minister Thomas Byrne to Behavioural Insights Training for ‘the provision of public relations and training services.’ Fine Gael’s Damien English billed €16,750 through the scheme including €1,800 to Consilium Communications and €2,950 to the well-known firm The Communications Clinic.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee also used the services of Consilium Communications and paid the firm €13,600 across two invoices.