Brendan Griffin, the Fine Gael TD who took a 50% pay cut on entering Dail Eireann (Ireland's Parliament) then employed his wife and his cousin, has defended his actions.
The Kerry deputy was accused of cronyism and nepotism when he appointed his wife Roisin as his secretary and cousin Tommy Griffin as his parliamentary advisor last month.
The 29-year-old has slammed the criticism however and pointed out that his decision to hand back half his salary will save the country over $300,000 over the next five years.
“When I go up to Dublin on a Tuesday Roisin comes with me and she goes home on Thursday with me, which is very important from a practical point of view because I always have the services of a secretary by my side,” Griffin told the Irish Independent.
“In general, I don’t think people see it as unusual.”
Griffin also claimed to the paper that any suggestion he was guilty of Fianna Fail style cronyism was grossly unfair.
The Kerry South Member of Parliament added: “The trust element is huge and that’s not just me.
“Roisin is trusted as well by members of the public and even before any of this became an issue people were calling the office in Dublin and they were delighted when they realized it was Roisin answering the phone.
“Tommy has been my campaign manager for the last three elections.
“I’ve had to disclose their backgrounds and that should not have to be the case. Anyone else in those jobs won’t have their backgrounds disclosed to the public.
“It’s far different from, let’s say, if I had been in a position to, and appointed Roisin or Tommy to a state board but some sections of the media have portrayed this in a similar light and I think that’s unfair.”
Griffin also claimed that constituents back in Kerry have backed his appointments with only a couple of discontented emails arriving anonymously to his website.
“Roisin gave up a full-time job to take this job,” added the Fine Gael back bencher.
“This job is slightly better paid but in her previous job she didn’t have travelling expenses and other costs.
“If I was in politics for the money I would not have voluntarily taken a 50pc cut in salary.
“The fact of the matter is that my office as a TD will cost €250,000 less to run over the next five years than any other TD’s office.
“We have a mortgage and we have loans like any other couple our age and not to have made the salary commitment would have been a very tempting thing to do and I think it’s very disingenuous then for people to accuse us of being greedy.”
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