OPPOSITION party leaders have questioned why Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney need additional staff and resources as the country faces an economic downturn.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she was “at a loss” as to why Mr Varadkar needs an Aide-De-Camp — his own personal military aide — as he is no longer taoiseach.
Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, she asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin to explain why he needs one. “What is the thinking behind that. The tánaiste is not the taoiseach — why would he require that,” she said.
She added: “I’m very concerned that we have a holy trinity of taoisigh or at least a holy trinity of very senior actors located in the Department of an Taoiseach at considerable cost to the taxpayer.”
Labour leader Alan Kelly criticised Mr Coveney for seeking to retain his State car and garda driver after being demoted from tánaiste.
Mr Coveney was entitled to the security when he was Tánaiste, but there is no entitlement to this type of State security when he is a Minister. “Let me say this straight up — it is also a joke that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is going to cost taxpayers €200,000 because he wants a garda car and a garda driver.”
“We are going through an economic crash of the likes we have never seen before,” said Mr Kelly. Mr Kelly asked why Mr Martin is “tolerating” such high expenses in Government.
Mr Martin said Mr Coveney is getting a Garda car for security reasons due to the nature of his work, while Mr Varadkar is getting an aide-de-camp “to assist him in is duties as Tánaiste at occasions and events he will be attending”.
He said 20 junior ministers have been appointed and none of them should have advisers. Mr Martin said the new coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party is a “tri-partite government” and requires more staff.