It was reported in the Irish Independent by Freedom of Information activist, Ken Foxe yesterday that Ministers, TDs and Senators spent more than €674,000, in the period between June 2020 and January 2021, through a special allowance they can use for PR advice, consultancy, or secretarial assistance.
It was also discovered that a number of politicians hired their family members through the allowance. Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley and Aindrias Moynihan were revealed hiring their family members.
Three Meath TDs/Ministers were listed availing of this special allowance. Minister Thomas Byrne, Minister Helen McEntee and Deputy Damien English.
Byrne paid out €7,950 through the special secretarial allowance to a firm called ‘Behavioural Insights Training’. The Minister stated that this was “the provision of public relations and training services”.
€16,750 was recorded on English’s bill. This included €1,800 paid to ‘Consilium Communication’ and €2,950 to ‘The Communications Clinic’.
Like English, McEntee also used the services of ‘Consilium Communications’. It was revealed she paid the firm €13,600 across two invoices in November 2020 and in January 2021.
There has been backlash from social media users since this story was revealed describing it as ‘cronyism’, ‘corrupt’ and a ‘waste of tax payers’ money’.