From left:  Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar; Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan

Some racket, in fairness.


32 thoughts on “The Special Ones

  1. Liam Deliverance

    Does that mean that Varadkar will have 6 advisors on full time hours? Do we get to know who they are, what their qualifications are, how much they are paid, and what do they actually do? Isn’t there a department full of staff working for him? Here’s me thinking we paid Varadkar enough as it is to do the job on his own, are they actually required?

    1. Cian

      Nothing new here. Arguably it is a good idea to have them – while a Minister does have a whole department full of staff – the staff are answerable to the Secretary General (who will still be the boss in a few years when the minister has moved on). A Minister having independent advice can counter a civil-service led administration.

      All ministers have them, here a list from last year (department, advisor name, salary) – but not what they do:

        1. arfton Clax

          yup. It seems advisers function is to get Minister reelected thus everything they say or do is viewed through that prism. I’d imagine CS can be more independent or possibly may be more inclined to see the long term view as their jobs don’t depend on the specific holder of the office being reelected.

        2. Cian

          I didn’t mean to imply that the CS may be politically orientated – I believer they are generally politically neutral.

          I was thinking more along the lines of a minister decided to reduce the numbers of civil servants in her department (or reduce the number of higher grades, or introduce a rule that all senior promotions must be from outside the department… or any action that might be “harmful” to a the civil servants) If this were to hap[en then they /may/ put impediments in the minister’s way. If the minister is 100% reliant on CS staff this would cause a deadlock (to the CS benefit). In this type of scenario having independent advisors would be good.

          I take the point that the advisors are politically motivated and want to ‘protect’ the minister – this is bad.

          1. Liam Deliverance

            Points noted – Thanks Cian for the pdf link, interesting. I
            s there an official description of what the work is that a special advisor is hired to do. I don’t think it is taxpayers money well spent if Varadkar spends €500,000 on 6 special advisors who are there to help the minister get re-elected. How does that benefit the citizen,?

            Why does Varadkar get 6 and some other ministers get 2. Last years Tanaiste only needed 4. The health minister only got 2. As for the CS, does the Secretary General not answer to the Minister of the Dept so the departments staff are essentially at the ministers disposal and are experienced in the departments work already.
            Looking at that pdf, there is a large disparity in the salaries being paid. And presumably there are associated extra costs with having 6 special advisors on top of their salary costs. Are there no rules to say what functions a minister may hire a SA for and that the SA must have qualifications to level X in order to apply.

            In a separate story I see Varadkar has asked for an Aide de Camp despite it not being part of the Tanaiste setup.

          2. Cian

            Yup, having six SAs seems extreme. At a guess it is to keep similar perks to MM – he will be taking over as Taoiseach in 2 years time – so needs to be up-to-date with *everything*.

            I don’t think their job is to get the minister re-elected. They are there to support him, take some of the workload, be a sounding board (albeit with one eye on the re-election). Saying that – a political decision that would help their re-election are ones that would have public support (unless the decision only benefits his constituency).

            I have no idea what the hiring criteria are – I imagine it is at the minister’s discretion.

          3. Liam Deliverance

            If the hiring criteria is at the ministers discretion then that is wide open for abuse from ministers. Further reading suggest a lot of Journalists have been employed as special advisers which begs many more questions. I have no issue with the costs IF the taxpayer is getting value for money, if the special advisor actually contributes to policy and enhances the service to the citizens. Eoghan Murphy had special advisors for 2.5 years and neither he nor they did much to enhance the functions of the Dept of Housing in his time there.

            Varadkar MAY be taking over in 2 years time. If he does not then why does the taxpayer need to pay for 4 superfluous special advisors, why not assign the SA’s if and when that happens. Once the ministers have gotten as much as they can then we will start to hear about the Covid recession and enormous tax deficits and tough budgets ahead and how things like mental health services cannot be properly funded, again.

            (Thanks Cian for reply)

      1. Rosette of Sirius

        It never fails to amaze me that most people have no idea what politicians ultimately are. Public representatives. Not servants. It’s a crucially important distinction. And when the day comes that those you elect to represent you find themselves in Government you’ll damn well want them to do the same…

        Enjoy this – bit squiffy quality but glorious none the less.

  2. Joe

    It didn’t take long for the Greens to copy their masters and to get up to snout level in the taxpayer funded trough.
    Eamon Ryan’s award for returning FFG to government! It will be amusing though probably puke inducing to see who the jobs for the boys and girls are.

      1. Matt Pilates


        Usual suspects – Gerard Howlin, Ed Brophy, Simon Nugent, Derek S Mooney, ex-Facebookers, PR agents, Hugo McNeil, Fionan Sheehan’s missus, Anton Savage, Terry Prone, Michael Smith, all of the Brendan O’Carroll-Marian Finucance coterie, Margaret E Ward, Conor Pope, …

  3. GiggidyGoo

    So Varadkar gets 6 x Concannons.

    Ryan gets 5 (he did of course promise that 50 of the greens would be endowed with new jobs upon going into government)

    How many does Mickey Martin get? Say, another 6

    That’s 17 advisors @ say, €120,000 each = € 1,840,000.

  4. OK Fred

    If you swapped the title of this post and the name of this website I don’t think many people would actually notice.

  5. Dr.Fart

    why the hell are they not worried about it? at ALL like.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      At least some of the ordinary business people are refusing service to them if they haven’t isolated.

    1. SOQ

      If I was a minister- my special advisors would be

      Dolores Cahill- when she is not rabble rousing against the gays.

      Panti Bliss- when she gets around to looking after her staff.

      Daniel O’Donnell- because he married a woman.


      1. Vanessanelle

        If I was Minister I’d mean business

        JR, for his 360° scope, and he can make me laugh at myself.

        My mentor Blanche. A World Class mind who stayed in the parish she was born, a full time educator and a full time CU Cooperator, and with what spare time she has, she still can’t sit down and do nothing, won’t even retire. She’s the most honest and energetic person I know. And she makes me laugh.

        The Bog Lawyer, Kevin H, for his encyclopedic knowledge of the political and legal backstairs and understairs, in all jurisdictions. His tmperament for detail & details, and even more detailed gossip. For is loyalty, support and comradeship that was there for me without anyone knowing. He minds me. And he makes me laugh.

        My work pal, Suzanne. The smartest political mind I know, who has a particular talent for extracting the quickest, easiest and cheapest route to anything. She sugar coats nothing, she’s generous and always insists on talking about me first before we get down to business/ work. And she makes me laugh.

        Improv Neil. Because he always has the right words, the right mood and the right tone for any occasion. He’s afraid of nothing and will try anything once. Like Blanche he can’t sit down and is always lining up the next thing. And he makes me laugh.

        Fluffy – for ensuring I keep it real. But more importantly his gentle empathy with the written word that strokes the reader without over bearing, or casting an impression of virtual signalling or snotty passive aggressiveness, or self-serving. And he makes me laugh.

        Mr Fox, an SC and Nordie who knows and can smell out every dirty secret and tall tale from Strabane to Skibbereen. A great man for the GAA, and can tell the National Temperature without getting anyone to bend over. He’s self deprecating, quick to the point and not afraid to offend. And he makes me laugh.

        Marco. The miracle worker who never stops learning or improving himself. He is always already signed up to the next thing to learn, a pop culture futurist I suppose. And he makes me laugh.

        We can all take turns doing the driving

        All these people would make 12 15 hour days feel accomplished, and I’d have no Monday morning moans. I’d even go on holidays with them

        Eight people job sharing three posts

        1. Mike

          An amazing piece of writing! :-)
          “can tell the National Temperature without getting anyone to bend over”
          Absolute poetry!!

  6. Gerry

    The usual new government story, how many cars, how many advisors. Every government has cars and advisors, every government in the western world. Any outrage is ignorant or disingenuous.


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