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claims Politicians claimed €879k via little-known secretarial allowance in just 10 months

The allowance allows politicians to pay for PR advice, training, help with computers, or to hire secretarial help on a temporary basis

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Junior European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne

Junior European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne

Junior European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne

Ministers, TDs, and senators were paid nearly €880,000 through the little-known special secretarial allowance in the space of just 10 months.

The allowance allows politicians to pay for PR advice, training, help with computers, or to hire secretarial help on a temporary basis.

Among the largest amounts paid out was the €19,400 paid by Junior European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne to a firm called Behavioural Insights Training for public relations work.

Another €14,360 was claimed by Justice Minister Helen McEntee for PR advice, digital marketing and secretarial help from Consilium Communications, GN Digital Marketing, and for secretarial help from another individual.

Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte paid out €10,414 to author Stefanie Preissner for public relations work during the first 11 months of last year.

Ms Rabbitte has previously said she hired Ms Preissner to help provide training to her on how to become a better communicator for her role.

Junior Minister Robert Troy claimed €19,617 for public relations services from Communique International, Deirdre Featherstone and Darajane O'Sullivan, the records said.

Only one minister used the services of the Communications Clinic - the PR firm used by Fine Gael ministers in the past. The latest Oireachtas records detail €1,050 in payments to that company from Junior Minister Damien English for "training".

Altogether, ministers and TDs claimed just over €111,000 under the scheme for PR, training, and IT work, according to records released under Freedom of Information.

A total of €623,000 was paid out by TDs for a temporary vouched employee.

Senators have also used the special secretarial allowance for public relations work or to provide other services to them.

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Under the scheme, Fine Gael's Joe O'Reilly paid €12,200 to Consilium Communications for "secretarial assistance", while Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley paid his wife Emer €8,036.50.

In total, claims amounting to €879,000 were made between January and October of 2021 under the terms of the scheme. 

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