Special Advisers are non-established civil servants appointed by Government at the request of the relevant Office Holder in line with Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997. There are nine Special Advisers employed by my Department, working in my office and the office of the Government Chief Whip, one of whom is a public servant (i.e. a non-civil servant).
As the terms of the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995, and the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001, apply to the appointment of Special Advisers and require that contracts of employment for Special Advisers should be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, I can inform the House that the Special Adviser in question is paid at Assistant Secretary level. In addition, as the terms and conditions of employment of Special Advisers allow for the laying before the Houses of the Oireachtas of a statement of their qualifications relevant to their official functions, I can inform the House that the Special Adviser in question has a BA in History and Politics from University College Dublin (1994), a Ph.D in History from University College Dublin (1997) and is a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin since 2008.
There are a further three non-civil servants working in my Department; two are public servants working in the Strategic Communications Unit and one staff member is seconded to my Department from a private sector organisation and working on Brexit-related issues in my Department's International, EU and Northern Ireland Division. The two public servants working in the Strategic Communications Unit are working at levels equivalent to the civil service grades of Assistant Secretary and Higher Executive Officer respectively. The staff member seconded to my Department from the private sector is working at Assistant Principal Officer level. While I am constrained by Data Protection legislation in relation to the release of the qualifications of these individuals, I can confirm that they are well qualified to carry out the duties assigned to them.
All staff working in the Department of the Taoiseach are bound by the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour. Section 5 of the Code deals specifically with the issue of civil servants and politics. Apart from the provisions in relation to civil servants and politics, the Code also applies to the posts of:
- Special Adviser;
- Government Press Secretary;
- Deputy Government Press Secretary;
- Assistant Government Press Secretary; and
- all Private Office staff holding temporary non-established positions and whose tenure is coterminous with that of the relevant Office Holder (e.g. personal assistants, personal secretaries, civilian drivers, etc.).