Taoiseach Enda Kenny personally intervened to have a special adviser awarded a salary of €127,000, 37 per cent more than had been recommended.
These are some of the Department of Enterprise communications, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which outline the chain of events leading to the decision.
After the general election, Ciaran Conlon was appointed as an adviser to Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton. Under new guidelines set out by the Department of Finance, a salary cap had been put in place for such positions, ranging from around €80,000 to €92,000 per year. It appears from the emails however, that Mr Conlon had already been promised an annual wage of €127,000.
A difficulty arose when both Minister for Public Expenditure Reform Brendan Howlin and Finance Minister Michael Noonan refused to grant this higher salary. A memo in the Department of Enterprise explained that they were willing to pay him at the higher end of the scale, approving a pay level of €92,000.
Ciaran Conlon, a former communications chief with Fine Gael, was not happy with this, writing in an email: ‘This is getting ridiculous. The minister sent over a memo on this issue weeks ago. This has been passed at the very highest level in Government Buildings.’
Enda Kenny then intervened with his private secretary writing to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and expressing the Taoiseach’s wish for a salary of €127,000. The Department caved in and a new contract for Mr Conlon was drawn up.
The story I wrote in this week’s Mail on Sunday outlines what happened in more detail:
Here are the documents: