ALMOST 90 civil servants are employed to carry out constituency work for government ministers and junior ministers in what has been dubbed an "outrageous squandering of resources".

Ministers have been accused of "raiding the public purse" to pay civil servants to do the necessary parish-pump politics in their constituencies to see them re-elected in the next general election.

The Sunday Tribune has learned that all 15 government departments employ civil servants who earn between €24,397 (for the lowest clerical officer grade) and €51,054 (for the highest executive officer grade) in various roles to work solely on constituency work for ministers and ministers of state.

John Curran, minister of state with responsibility for the national drugs strategy, and Martin Manseragh, minister of state with responsibility for the OPW and the arts, are the only two ministers that do not employ these staff.

Sinn Féin economic spokes­man Arthur Morgan uncovered the information after putting a series of parliamentary questions to each government department on the matter.

"Using civil servants on varying pay scales to carry out ministers' constituency work is in effect Fianna Fáil, the Greens and Mary Harney raiding the public purse in an effort to enhance their chances of re-election," said Morgan.

"Ireland is in the throes of a public finance crisis because of Fianna Fáil's mishandling of the economy and public purse over the last two decades. Astonishingly, it appears government ministers and their ministers of state have yet to reach a point of self actualisation when it comes to why we are in this recession.

"Squandering public monies for ministers' personal gain cannot be justified and if the government have not cottoned onto this fact, they are truly misjudging the public mood."

The three senior ministers who declared the most staff working solely on constituency work are the Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who has seven, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, who has five, and the Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, who has six.

In the Department of Transport, Noel Dempsey and Noel Ahern pointed out that the three staff they each have are "also engaged in departmental work". However, other ministers did not make this claim, with the implication being that they employ these staff solely for constituency work.

The five ministers under the control of the Department of Health and Children (Mary Harney, Barry Andrews, Maire Hoctor, John Moloney and Mary Wallace) employ more than 10 staff to carry out their constituency work. But the three ministers at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Micheál Martin, Dick Roche and Peter Power) also employ 10 staff for the same purpose.

Roche, who employs four full-time staff and one person on a 50% work pattern, has the highest number of staff compared to all other junior ministers.