Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Practice of using civil servants for constituency work of Ministers must end – Ferris

24 March, 2009 - by Martin Ferris TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening on a Private Members’ motion calling for a reduction of Junior Ministers Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris criticised the use of civil servants for the constituency work of Junior Ministers.

Deputy Ferris said, “I don’t think anyone can argue with the logic of the motion, especially given the current economic situation and the fact that the Government appears to be intent on imposing a large part of the burden for saving public money on those who can least afford it.

“All of us I am certain have received literally hundreds of representations through constituents, emails, phone calls and letters about the effect that the Pension Levy will have on low paid workers in the Public Service and the impact of the vast range of cutbacks that have already been made.

“And of course there are apparently lots more in the pipeline in the Budget to be presented next week – a week in which the people of Dublin will be without buses due to the short sighted decision to decimate services and crews in the City, and a week in which tens of thousands of workers will be making known exactly what they think of the Government’s approach to the economic and financial crisis.

“With regard to the substance of the motion it does of course make sense to reduce the numbers of Junior Ministers and to tackle the issue that some of those who are nominally working for Government Departments are in fact performing constituency work for the Ministers in question.

“In a series of PQs to each Department regarding that issue, asking all government Department Ministers for the number of civil servants engaged in constituency work on behalf of his or her Department, and the salaries, accommodation costs and expenses involved or associated with these duties, it was disclosed that only Ministers for State John Curran and Martin Mansergh did not have civil servants engaged in constituency work.

“In total there were 44 civil servants whose time was spent looking after the Ministers constituency work rather than anything to do with the work of whatever Department they were employed by. Sixteen were employed by Ministers for State Conor Lenihan, Dick Roche, Billy Kelleher, Jimmy Devins, John McGuinness, Noel Ahern and within the Taoiseach’s own Department.

“As my colleague the Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD said at the time in response to the information divulged, this use of significant numbers of civil servants for constituency work is an “outrageous squandering of the state resources.”

“It is ironic indeed that at a time when the Government parties and Ministers are lecturing the rest of us on the need to accept cuts, and at a time when they are targeting low paid public sector workers in particular, that they should also be cynically spending a significant amount of public money in attempting to protect their own Dáil seats. I say attempting because if one thing is for certain you will not all be coming back which makes the waste of money an even worse offence.” ENDS

Connect with Sinn Féin