Brendan Howlin, the Minister responsible for overseeing a pay cap for special advisers, tried repeatedly to come to a compromise agreement on the pay of Ciaran Conlon.
The negotiations over the bumper salary of €127,000 that was finally set out for Mr Conlon show that Brendan Howlin had serious concerns about it and did not believe it could be justified under any circumstances.
He also said it would set a poor example and would provoke other Ministers into seeking higher pay for their advisers, or ask for salaries – that were already agreed – to be renegotiated.
The new emails, obtained from the Department of Public Enterprise, show that the Department of the Taoiseach repeatedly intervened in the process and would not accept a compromise of ca €115,000, which Howlin had pleaded with them to accept.
It would have presented a face-saving solution to the sensitive problem and was still, as Mr Howlin himself pointed out, a 25% increase on the original offer. In the end, he caved in following a demand that came directly from the Taoiseach [see below post].
Some of the documents on which this are based are posted here, with the more important exchanges coming towards the end.
A lengthy story that I wrote, which outlines it in further detail, is available here:
These new emails, now released by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, should, to my mind, have already been released under an FoI request that was submitted to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation about the same matter.
That they were not is suspicious. The decision on their release is currently being appealed and will in due course be made known to the Information Commissioner.