The Golden Circle of Chancers and Spoofers, Living off the backs of the Irish People. This Shower have it every way, Family members on the Payroll. PR Firms making Millions. Never even knew Timmy was married?

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Revealed: Family members among TDs and senators’ €674k spend on ‘special allowance’

Timmy Dooley and his wife Emer. Photo: Eamon

Timmy Dooley and his wife Emer. Photo: Eamon Ward

April 12 2021 02:30 AM

Ministers, TDs, and senators spent more than €674,000 through a special allowance they can use for PR advice, consultancy, or secretarial assistance.

Among the payments since the last election were €6,154 to writer and actress Stefanie Preissner for public-relations advice for Minister of State Anne Rabbitte.

A number of politicians hired family members through the allowance including Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley, who paid his wife Emer €10,400 for secretarial assistance.

Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan paid his son, also called Aindrias, a total of €9,861 for secretarial assistance, according to records released by the Oireachtas.

The special secretarial allowance is available to ministers, TDs, and senators to cover the costs of consultancy, public relations and IT support.

It can also be used to hire a secretarial assistant, especially where TDs or senators are looking for somebody to work for them temporarily.

The €674,719 in payments were made in the period between June of last year and this January.

Minister of State Colm Brophy spent just over €20,000 through the allowance, including €8,190 for
secretarial support, and €9,900 for PR advice.

He also billed the Oireachtas €1,996.50 through Realise4 Consultancy, also for public-relations services.

His colleague at the Department of Foreign Affairs Minister of State, Thomas Byrne, paid out €7,950 through the special secretarial allowance.

All payments were made to a firm called Behavioural Insights Training for what the minister said was “the provision of public relations and training services”.

The Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins spent €41,200 through the allowance including €21,200 for secretarial assistance and €20,000 paid to DB Computer Solutions for ‘IT Training/Public Relations’ according to an Oireachtas database of spending that was released under Freedom of Information legislation.

Fine Gael’s Damien English billed €16,750 through the scheme, including €1,800 paid to Consilium Communication and €2,950 to the well-known PR firm, The Communications Clinic.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee also used the services of Consilium Communications and paid the firm €13,600 across two invoices in November last year and in January.

One senator, Fine Gael’s Joe O’Reilly, used that company as well, with €5,100 in payments listed from his allowance for “secretarial assistance”.

Minister of State Robert Troy billed €12,913 through the secretarial allowance, all related to public relations and IT support.

As part of Mr Troy’s allowance, a total of €7,986 was paid to Communiqué International and €1,400 to SB Media and Events.

Minister Anne Rabbitte paid out around €20,000 through the allowance, including just over €6,000 to writer of RTÉ comedy drama Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, writer Stefanie Preissner.

Ms 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’s 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.”

Ms Preissner said details of the arrangement were confidential but that the communications services she offers were available on her website.

Of the two Oireachtas members who hired family members, Timmy Dooley said his wife Emer was paid for “secretarial work she carries out at my constituency office in Ennis, 9.30 to 5, five days a week”.

Aindrias Moynihan said the hiring of his son had been a temporary arrangement.

He 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.”

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