I Didn’t Vote For Your Sister



Kate O’Connell (right) and her sister and parliamentary assistant Teresa Newman

Or any other member of your family.


Political expenses sleuth Ken Foxe writes:

Every TD is entitled to make a number of appointments immediately after their election. Under current arrangements, they can hire a secretarial assistant and also a parliamentary assistant.

There is also an option open to them to hire their parliamentary assistant temporarily instead, although very few choose this.

Not for the first time (nor presumably the last), the list of appointments includes no shortage of examples of family members getting the jobs.

The Sunday Times has done a good job already of teasing out many of these connections

At link below is an up to date spreadsheet of all the appointments made since the general election. If you happen to spot any other ones that merit further scrutiny, feel free to email me at ken.foxe@gmail.com.

So who did your local TD hire in the wake of the general election? (Ken Foxe)

Those relative appointments in full

Peter Fitzpatrick, (daughter Grace), Bernard Durkan (son Tim), Kate O’Connell (sister Theresa Newman), Maria Bailey (father John), Sean Barrett (daughter Jaci), Catherine Byrne (daughter Clare), and Ciaran Cannon (wife Niamh Lawless).

Brendan Griffin (wife Róisín and his cousin Tommy); John McGuinness (son Andrew); Michael McGrath (brother Seamus); Seán Fleming (wife Mary); and Timmy Dooley (wife Emer).

Seán Sherlock ( sister Úna Willis), Willie Penrose  (brother, Johnnie), Michael Healy-Rae, (son Jackie Jr), Mattie McGrath (daughter, Tríona). Joan Collins, 9her husband Dermot Connolly job-shares a role as parliamentary assistant in her office.



38 thoughts on “I Didn’t Vote For Your Sister

    1. Polaroid Fluid

      what does she represent, empowered well educated women? I bet that rankles down in the SF Taliban caves for the wimmin does it?

      1. Doop

        I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, I believe he was referring to her politics and not her gender.

    2. ahjayzis


      I’ve only heard her interviewed a few times but she seems like a nice person, she even speaks her mind, which we don’t get much of in politics.

      I disagree with many of her party’s positions, but I’m with her on repealing the 8th and I’m sure plenty of other things we have in common.

      You don’t need to hate people you disagree with.

      1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

        totally agree
        above all she put that awful Lucinda out of business
        for that alone she deserves utmost respect

        1. ahjayzis

          Totes, she’s like the acceptable face of Lucinda. Like they exorcised the spirit of Ayn Rand’s more callous sister, Philomena, from Lucinda and left the good, though still to-the-right, core.

          But yeah, I really hate this whole “we have different views on economics and inequality, so that person is basically Hitler in a skirt” vibe of late.

  1. Panty Christ

    These jobs should be listed on public jobs dot ie and candidates should ensure a long drawn out process of recruitment

  2. Anne

    Nepotism, define – See Irish parliament.

    What need have they of assistants and secretaries and fupping drivers and hair stylists etc etc.. can they not write a letter themselves?

    There is also an option open to them to hire their parliamentary assistant temporarily instead, although very few choose this. What exactly does that mean?
    Instead of what? Permanently?

    1. garthicus

      Does it mean that if it’s a perm position that they are not allowed use family members, but if it’s a temp one then they can?

      1. Anne

        I don’t think it means that.. there’s lots of them hiring family members… it says very few go for the temp option.

        I suppose it means they can hire an assistant temporarily.. .. but they’re putting the family members on the gravy train in a permanent capacity.

        1. Ken F

          I uploaded the guidance document for TDs to the blog post so that should hopefully answer the question. I remember a handful of TDs did it this way in 2011 when they were waiting to find somebody full-time for the role, and used somebody temporarily as a stop gap.

          1. Anne

            ok thanks..got it.

            Members of Dáil Éireann are entitled to one Secretarial Assistant. In
            addition they may choose one of the following
            engagement of full time Parliamentary Assistant (enabling a Deputy
            to have a Parliamentary Assistant in addition to the staff allocation
            through HR Unit for Members of one Secretarial Assistant),


            an annual allowance of €41,092 fully vouched for secretarial
            assistants by employing a Temporary Vouched Employee (TVE) or a
            contract for service to undertake defined work such as secretarial
            assistance, PR, IT (but not web related) and training.

  3. Brother Barnabas

    Is there something in the Irish DNA that makes us tolerate all the poo that emerges every day?

  4. Bort

    Aside from a wage what else these positions get? Expenses? Pension? Health insurance?

    1. Anne

      That looks like the case –


      ‘Travelling expenses for training courses’

      ‘Service which will reckon in calculating your pension entitlement under this Superannuation Scheme’

      The Benefits
      To qualify for a pension, members of this Scheme must have a minimum
      period of 2 calendar years in which the staff member is in service

      Pay scales are on page 28..starting at 41k

  5. Brendan O'

    Hugh O’Connell should have wrote about it for thejournal.ie, an exclusive story.

      1. Brendan O'

        I know, but he knew about this when he worked for thejournal.ie. You nugget.

  6. Anomanomanom

    Why is this news. I stated her hundreds of times about all the TDs who do this, like Joan Collins moaning about nepotism and then hiring her husband and the great BS faithfully need pooed bricks because I mentioned her. Well now you have your proof.

  7. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

    They’re both beautiful and glamorous and thus equally qualified to ‘do the job’

  8. Brother Barnabas

    On March 5 (with a deadline for applications of March 9!), Kate O’Connell advertised the positions of Parliament Assistant and Secretarial Assistant:


    According to Kate:

    “Candidates must have the following:
    – A political awareness and keen organisational sense.
    – Ability to work to constant tight deadlines, and changing priorities.
    – Awareness of both national and local issues.
    – Knowledge and understanding of the political environment, legislative process, and the procedures of the Oireachtas.
    – Excellent research skills and equally capable communicative skills.
    – High proficiency in all Office programmes.”

    And, also, according to Kate:

    “After the deadline for receiving applications has passed, an assessment committee will be formed comprising of a number of members, following which a shortlist will be made, and interviews with those shortlisted candidates proceeding thereafter.”

    It would be great to see a) how exactly her sister met the required criteria, and b) who comprised the assessment committee, c) how the process was conducted.

    It would be nice to know too why the application period was open for less than 4 days.

    If Kate O’Connell cares at all about transparency, she would happily provide this information.

    Very unlikely.

    1. Gers

      If you ask she would simply tell you that her sister is “filling the gap” until a permanent position is filled, which might well be the truth.

  9. Derek

    I’m against nepotism and political appointments for things like judges, heads of state boards etc. where the job and experience/qualifications actually matter. I don’t really care if some TD’s secretary is his brother rather than some randomer. If their brother is a shit secretary then that’ll be the TD’s problem, not ours. What exactly am I supposed to be outraged about?

    1. The Real Jane

      “What exactly am I supposed to be outraged about?”

      Beats me. If a relation of mine ever gets elected (hope fading every time out) I will happily take any job offered, as, I suspect, would many of those fainting at the very idea right now. And I wouldn’t feel guilty. And in fairness to me, I’d be actually very good at the job indeed.

    2. classter

      I actually agree with you, Derek.

      I do reckon that having both a secretarial assistant and also a parliamentary assistant is excessive.

      One assistant should really be fine for a non-ministerial TD

      1. J

        They got rid of this practice in Germany. Am hoping the Bundestag will do the same here.

  10. Truth in the News

    While we are at it who is related to who in RTE….nepotism and insider jobbery
    is rife in Irish society…as the saying goes its who you know not what you know
    All the Oireahtas positions should be filled by public competition, after all we foot
    the bill,

  11. Simon Palmer

    Teresa is solid, ran Kate’s campaign and has a lot of media experience. Of all the hires by TDs, she actually justifies the appointment based on her experience alone, so it is unfair she’s been singled out. The whole issue of family hires is understandable, after all you want someone you can trust to have your back.

  12. shane

    Given that at least two members of the FG (possibly more) got sued by their parliamentary assistants last term I don’t actually blame them (except the former Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett – he’ll be doing nothing and won’t be running again, so hiring his daughter is taking the pee).

    Hiring staff is a real problem in Leinster House. Most people on the political side work 70+ hours a week, Parliamentary Assistants work those kinda hours too. Your job is over as soon as an election is called, and your boss doesn’t have to rehire you, and can fire you at a moments notice without cause, and there is no career structure. Most people are not stupid enough to work under those conditions, so don’t. I’m pretty sure that Mary Mitchell-O’Connor has gotten through about five members of staff in the last five years (not the worst, but definitely not a good sign about what MMO’C is like off camera.

    On the politician’s side, they need to have someone they trust. The need to not have someone putting a file together and personally suing them (such as happened that eegit James Bannon), or when Shane Ross’s Parliamentary Assistant jumped ship after the election to go work for the constituency competition.

    You can’t trust anyone from your party because it’s politics and they’ll all shaft you in a moment, you can’t use anyone who is not politically experienced because they would not know what they were doing, if you pick a stranger they are dealing with all of your private information (because SIPO) and the personal information of the constituents so you need them to be discreet, so you end up going with the people who put the work in getting you elected; typically friends and family.

    The role of the Parliamentary Assistant (of Secretarial Assistant, it’s the same job with worse pay) is to get the candidate re-elected. If they give it to a family member who doesn’t put the work in, then the politician won’t get re-elected and it’s a self resolving problem.

    I have worked in Leinster House (no I’m not related to anyone), it’s a really unpleasant place to work. Everyone is friendly, and everyone will shaft you, you can’t trust anyone; even/especially your staff (just ask Sean Conlon) so I don’t blame anyone who hires someone they can actually rely on and trust.

    The outrage is probably justified in the case of the former Ceann Comhairle (because he won’t run again, this is basically free money for his daughter) but in the other cases it isn’t. The sense is that theses people are getting a grand handy job that someone else could do. It’s not an easy job, and there are feck all people who can do it, and care enough about it, and the politican, to do it well. If they treat the job as a handy number, their politician won’t get re-elected, and that’s a good thing, the politician obviously was a terrible judge of character.

    Yes, there is a secondary argument… that they shouldn’t have staff at all… but that’s a particularly stupid point of view. I’ve seen very few politicians sitting around scratching their holes doing nothing all day, the odd one (some very odd) gets away with it, but the vast majority don’t (and won’t for at least another three Dáil cycles, given how precarious everyone’s seat has become).

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