Fine Gael TD John Perry appointed his wife to a €38,000-a-year position after losing his job as minister for small business in a Government reshuffle.

Marie Perry, or Marie Mulvey as she is listed in official documents, was hired on 2 January this year, the RTÉ Investigations Unit has learned.

Mrs Perry was given a job as a parliamentary assistant, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The appointment was made despite the fact that Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said giving family members such jobs is "not good practice".

The role is paid on a salary scale of between €38,760 and €49,035 a year, with overtime payments of a further 20% on top of that salary available.

Details of what salary is being paid to Mrs Perry were refused by the Houses of the Oireachtas who said that such records were “confidential and personal”.

The Fine Gael Press Office said that Mr Perry had "declined to comment" to a series of questions submitted by RTÉ.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "All staff appointments are made at the discretion of particular TDs and Senators.

"Appointments must satisfy criteria set by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. Remuneration is in line with pay scales determined by the commission."

Tánaiste Joan Burton said she was not particularly keen on TDs hiring their own spouses.

Speaking in Washington DC ahead of meetings at the World Bank and IMF, Ms Burton said who TDs hire was entirely a matter for them and for the qualifications they held.

She added that right across the Dáil there were people who had relatives working for them.

Ms Burton said often these family members were people who were a core part of the team and had worked for TDs for decades.

Mr Perry and his wife have been in financial difficulty in recent years and had been sued by Danske Bank over unpaid loans relating to their business and property dealings.

In July of last year, the bank registered a court judgment against both Mr Perry and his wife for the repayment of debts of €2.47m.

The registered judgment appeared in Stubb's Gazette just days after Mr Perry, who is a TD for Sligo-North Leitrim, lost his job as junior minister at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Mr Perry had a large property portfolio in the west of Ireland but official Dáil records show that it has shrunk considerably over the past number of years.

In 2013, the former minister included ten different properties in his official Oireachtas register of interests, the majority of them in Co Sligo.

According to the 2014 register however, Mr Perry now has just five properties, aside from his family home.

These include a supermarket in Ballymote, 34 acres of woodland, an apartment, and two constituency offices - one in Ballymote and one in Sligo.

Mr Perry's take-home pay has also suffered since he lost his job as a junior minister, and he is now paid a TD's salary of €87,258 instead of the annual salary of €121,639 he had been paid at the Department of Jobs.

Mr Perry was also entitled to claim significant amounts for travel while a junior minister and between March 2011 and July 2014, he was paid €95,722 for domestic mileage.

The Sligo politician is now paid the standard Oireachtas rates available for all TDs and is paid an allowance of €4,225 a month to cover travel, accommodation and the other costs - constituency offices, advertising etc - associated with being a politician.

The Taoiseach has said in the past that it is "not good practice" for politicians to give jobs to family members but that such personal appointments do not require government approval.

Asked about a number of Fine Gael TDs who were reported to have hired family after the election of March 2011 he said: "I've made a point of saying that it's not good practice to appoint family members.

"But I have to say these are personal appointments, they are not Government appointments, they don't have to be approved by Government.

"I, myself, have been very careful over the years to demonstrate that a public job is a public job but personal appointments are personal appointments and I can't make final decisions in that regard."