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Two-thirds of political and media advisers recruited by Government are paid more than €100,000

The two most senior advisers earn between €185,000 and €195,000 a year, though both gift part of their salaries back to the State

About two-thirds of the 69 political and media advisers hired by the Government are paid more than €100,000 a year, according to figures provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and collated by The Irish Times.

Each Cabinet minister can hire two special advisers, who are normally paid at principal officer rates, a senior Civil Service grade which carries a salary of between €98,000 and €130,000.

Most junior ministers are allowed to hire one adviser, paid at a slightly lower grade, that of assistant principal officer, which carries a salary of between €75,000 and €104,000.

Many ministers hire one adviser for policy issues and another to deal with the media. Unlike civil servants, the advisers’ brief is explicitly political and they typically work closely with their minister.


A small number of advisers who work for the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan earn salaries pegged to higher Civil Service rates.

The most senior advisers are the Taoiseach’s chief of staff Brian Murphy and the Tánaiste’s chief of staff Deirdre Gillane, who earn between €185,000 and €195,000 a year, though both gift part of their salaries back to the State, as do many Ministers.

Eamon Ryan has two joint chiefs of staff, Donall Geoghegan and Anna Conlan, both of whom earn salaries at assistant secretary level, some €165,000. Ms Conlan is currently on maternity leave, and is being temporarily replaced by Eamon Fahey. Mr Ryan has a team of advisers in Government Buildings who work across government with Green Party Ministers, and also advisers in the two departments for which he has responsibility, the Department of Environment and the Department of Transport.

Special advisers are classed as “non-established” civil servants, and are usually appointed from outside the Civil Service, with many former journalists working as media advisers. They lose their jobs immediately when their minister departs, either after an election or for any other reason.

However, they receive severance payments on departure. Figures released by the Department of Agriculture to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy show, for example, that in 2020 a special adviser received more than €101,000 – composed of €85,358 in severance and more than €15,876 in redundancy.

A full list of all advisers, their roles and salaries, of which 43 earn more than €100,000, is published in The Irish Times today.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times