Politicians demanded € 879,000 via little-known secretarial allowance in just 10 months

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Ministers, DTs and senators received nearly € 880,000 thanks to the unrecognized special secretarial allowance in just 10 months.

The allowance allows politicians to pay for public relations advice, training, IT support, or hire secretarial staff on a temporary basis.

Among the largest amounts donated was the € 19,400 donated by Junior European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne to a company called Behavioral Insights Training for public relations work.

An additional € 14,360 was claimed by Justice Minister Helen McEntee for advice on public relations, digital marketing and support for the secretariat of Consilium Communications, GN Digital Marketing and for secretarial assistance to a other person.

Deputy Minister Anne Rabbitte paid author Stefanie Preissner € 10,414 for public relations work in the first 11 months of last year.

Ms Rabbitte previously said she hired Ms Preissner to help provide her with training on how to become a better communicator for her role.

Deputy Minister Robert Troy claimed € 19,617 for the public relations services of Communique International, Deirdre Featherstone and Darajane O’Sullivan, according to the records.

Only one minister used the Communication Clinic – the public relations cabinet used by Fine Gael ministers in the past. The latest Oireachtas records detail € 1,050 in payments to this company by Deputy Minister Damien English for “training”.

In total, ministers and TDs claimed a little over € 111,000 under the program for public relations, training and IT work, according to documents released under freedom of information.

In total, € 623,000 was paid by TD for a dedicated temporary worker.

Senators also used the special secretarial allowance for public relations work or to provide them with other services.

As part of this program, Joe O’Reilly of Fine Gael paid Consilium Communications € 12,200 for “secretarial assistance”, while Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fáil paid his wife Emer € 8,036.50.

In total, claims amounting to € 879,000 were filed between January and October 2021 under the scheme.

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