DOZENS of TDs and senators employ family members as parliamentary and secretarial assistants, newly released records reveal.
The wife of Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney last night complained of being "singled out", and the latest list of Oireachtas employees show how at least 27 members see nothing wrong with employing wives, siblings and more distant relatives.
South Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath had the most family members working for him in recent months, employing two daughters and a niece.
TDs and senators from government parties alone employ at least 15 family members, flouting Fine Gael's pre-election pledge to end cronyism and the Labour Party's advice that hiring family members was "unwise".
Parliamentary assistants enjoy a starting salary of €41,000 while secretarial assistants are paid €23,000.
Galway East TD Mr Keaveney came in for criticism yesterday when it emerged he has employed his wife Deirdre as a parliamentary assistant since the start of September.
He said there was "nothing unusual" about his wife working for him -- he said on a temporary basis -- adding: "I would regard her as my closest political confidant."
Last night Mrs Keaveney spoke out saying: "I'm surprised Colm and myself have been singled out."
And she added: "As I'm sure you are aware about 30pc of Oireachtas members, including government ministers and MEPs, have family members working for them."
She claimed to have undergone a "fairly rigorous" application process to get the job and would be working for her husband until "Christmas at the latest".
Mr Keaveney said in a statement that he had always intended to advertise the position "in due course".
Oireachtas records show at least 10 TDs and senators in both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail employ family members.
Kerry-North Limerick TD Brendan Griffin of Fine Gael employs his wife Roisin and his cousin Tommy, while Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath employs his brother Seamus, a Cork county councillor.
Four Labour TDs -- including former junior minister Willie Penrose -- and three Independent deputies, have family on the payroll.
One of the Independents, Mr McGrath, had three family members working for him until this week, his two daughters Triona and Mairead, and his niece Kathy who all job shared in the parliamentary and secretarial assistant jobs along with another staff member.
He said they were all "very well qualified" and explained that Mairead had worked for him for just over two months until this week when she returned to college. He said she had been covering for his other daughter.
Mr McGrath added: "They work very hard . . . and they go above and beyond the call of duty at all times."