Since my appointment as Minister I have appointed two Special Advisers, Ms Suzie Coogan and Mr. Ross Elwood. Ms Coogan was appointed as press and media advisor and was previously employed as a journalist, government advisor and communications director for an international NGO. Ms Coogan's annual salary is currently at the rate of €95,441.
Mr Elwood was appointed as special advisor with responsibility for policy and was previously employed in the Oireachtas and the European Parliament. His current salary is at the rate of €88,471 per annum.
In addition, I appointed two Civilian Drivers, Mr. Liam Feehily and Mr Michael Concar both of whom are on a salary level of €36,057 per annum.
All of the above appointments were made in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s 'Instruction to Personnel Officers - Ministerial Appointments for the 32nd Dáil'.
The terms of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 apply to all Ministerial staff appointments, including Special Advisers, and in accordance with these Acts a copy of the appointees' contracts of employment together with details of qualifications are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. In addition, the Acts provide for each individual appointee, with the exception of the grade of Civilian Driver, to make written statements of registerable interests which could materially influence the appointee in, or in relation to, the performance of official functions.
The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour also apply to Ministerial appointees but the Deputy may wish to note that the restrictions on civil servants engaging in political activity under the Code do not apply to Ministerial staff holding temporary unestablished positions in the civil service and whose tenure is coterminous with that of the relevant Minister. I am satisfied that all of the persons appointed by me are appropriately qualified to carry out their official functions.