Taoiseach must clarify issue of unlawful payment to Minister, and outline who will be paid to attend Cabinet – Howlin
Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD has called on the Taoiseach to clarify whether he has confirmed that the payment to the Chief Whip of the Government over the last year and more was unlawful; when he will begin to recoup this additional allowance; and to tell the public which two of his four super junior Ministers will be paid to attend Cabinet.
Deputy Howlin said:
“For many years, the convention was that a chief whip and one ‘super-junior’ Minister attended Cabinet. In 2001, legislation was enacted to establish this convention on a statutory basis.
“Under law, the Government may only pay an additional allowance to two Ministers of State who regularly attend Cabinet meetings. After the last election three ‘super’ Juniors were appointed – only two of whom were entitled to the extra €15,829-a-year for attending Cabinet meetings.
“This issue was overcome by creating a new allowance for the position of Chief Whip. Payments for the position of Whip however has been for a parliamentary position, not a Government position. Previously the payment for the Chief Whip was provided for through their allowance received due to their role as a Minister of State attending Cabinet.
“There are now four Ministers of State who attend Government, one of whom has also been appointed Chief Whip.
“Section 41 of the 2001 Act, which substituted a new section 6 to the 1998 Act, outlines in 6 (2) that a Party Whip’s allowance may not be paid to any Minister of State.
“It is now incumbent on the Taoiseach to clarify that the payment of this allowance was unlawful, and that he will not make immediate arrangements for this payment to be recovered by the state.
“Furthermore, he should reveal which two of his four Super-Juniors will be paid to attend Cabinet. No Ministers are in receipt of any allowances until a new Statutory Instrument is laid before the Houses, so it will fall entirely to the Taoiseach to decide which Ministers will receive the full rate of pay.
“In seeking to keep Fine Gael TDs happy, the new Taoiseach has further increased the number of ‘super-junior’ Ministers. But in doing so, he seems to have paid little attention to the legal constraints on the number of people who can be paid for such roles.”
Notes to Editors: see below the relevant legislation
Ministerial, Parliamentary and Judicial Offices and Oireachtas Members (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2001
Amendment of the 1998 Act — insertion of section 3A (allowances payable to certain Ministers of State).
40.—The 1998 Act is amended by inserting the following section after section 3:
“Allowances payable to certain Ministers of State.
3A.—(1) The Government may, by order—
(a) provide for the payment of an annual allowance to not more than 2 specified holders of the office of Minister of State who regularly attend meetings of the Government, and
(b) determine the rate of the allowance, and the date or dates on and from which the allowance is payable.
(2) An order under this section may, if so expressed, have retrospective effect.”.
41.—The 1998 Act is amended by substituting the following section for section 6:
“Payment of allowances.
6.—(1) An allowance referred to in section 3, 3A, 4 or 5 of this Act is payable in addition to the salary payable to the member concerned under section 2 of the Principal Act (as amended by the Act of 1992), but is not payable for a period for which that salary is not payable.
(2) An allowance referred to in section 3, 4 or 5 of this Act is not payable to a member who holds an office referred to in Part II of the Act of 1938 (as amended by the Act of 1977).
(3) If a member would, but for this section, be eligible to receive during a period more than one of the allowances referred to in sections 3, 3A, 4 and 5, the member is entitled to be paid only the highest or higher amount of those allowances during that period.
(4) An allowance referred to in sections 3, 3A, 4 and 5 is payable out of money provided by the Oireachtas.”.