PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has insisted that people such as former Labour presidential candidate Adi Roche should not be labelled as political cronies.
Ms Roche was appointed to the board of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland by Environment Minister Phil Hogan last year.
In the Dail, Mr Howlin insisted that Ms Roche was not a "crony".
He said: "How could anybody who spent most of her life championing the Chernobyl issue not be a suitable candidate to be on the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland? Should she be debarred because she offered herself for public office?"
Last week, it emerged that more than 60 people with links to Fine Gael or Labour have been appointed to state boards since the Government took office almost two years ago.
It was also revealed that ministers are filling up to half of all available state board jobs with their own private candidates despite a government pledge to open up the positions to the public.
But Mr Howlin insisted that a person should not be excluded just because they were a councillor or had spoken publicly about their political views. He also said it was unfair to label academics and economists as political cronies if they gave advice to a political party.
"That they should be disbarred or regarded as cronies is an extraordinary, limiting and perverse view. Purity would mean one has to be almost apolitical," he said.
Shane Ross TD has called for a new appointments process, which would see every state board nominee going before a Dail committee to get approval.