A bit of a barney in the Dail yesterday, by all accounts. It seems that three years ago, government advisers were handed over one million euro of tax-payers’ money; at present, that has shrunk to an annual € 576,000. Hooray, hooray, hooray. Only then a barney was raised by Gerry Adams and then Micheal Martin because, apparently, Enda Kenny had been caught breaching the cap that’s been put on pay to government advisers, by intervening so the adviser in question got a higher salary. Micheal Martin said that eight out of fifteen salaries had broken the government’s own guidelines. Meanwhile the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, explained why it was “simply not possible” to intervene regarding cuts in education, including cutting staff levels. Not good news for the 1,000 guidance counselors in the south who may well lose their jobs. Quite a few in languages and science may also go.
Clearly these special advisers are really classy people. Guidance counselors and language or science teachers spend around five years getting equipped for their jobs, so presumably the special advisers must have trained for even longer. Funny, though, that I’ve never actually heard of a School of Government Advisorship in any university. Have you?
Meanwhile here in the north we had our own brouhaha a while back over a special adviser having once been an IRA member. As, of course, were the Deputy First Minister, the Minister for Regional Development, not to mention the criminal record of both the present First Minister and his predecessor. All great fun to talk about, but of course what special advisers are judged by - should be judged by – is the quality of their advice.
For example, Steven King, late of this parish, advised David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party. So too did the former Paul Bew, now elevated to the dizzy heights of being Lord Bew, presumably in recognition of the quality of his services. The fact that their advice coincided with a period when the Ulster Unionist Party did a Costa Concordia, never to sail again, was purely coincidental. Wasn’t it?
Ah, advisers. You know why they get paid so much. Because they’re worth it.