Thursday 23 February 2017

Burton will 'use law' to kick out Healy-Rae

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

SOCIAL Welfare Minister Joan Burton is upping the ante in her bid to remove Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae from a state quango.

After Mr Healy-Rae dug his heels in and refused to resign from the Citizens' Information Board (CIB), Ms Burton is now threatening to use the law to kick him off.

She told Labour Party TD Ged Nash that she believes there is a section of the law setting up the board that allows for a member to be removed by the minister.

"I have written to the deputy (Mr Healy-Rae) twice, outlining my concerns and seeking his resignation. The deputy has responded stating that he will not be resigning from the board," Ms Burton said.

"I will now consider termination of the deputy's membership of the board invoking the provisions of the Comhairle Act 2000."

Mr Healy-Rae, the Kerry South TD, receives €5,985 plus expenses a year for the CIB position, on top of his Dail salary of around €92,000.

He was appointed to the CIB by the previous government at the behest of his father, former Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae.

Ms Burton has changed the rules so sitting politicians will be banned in future from being members of the board.

Mr Healy-Rae has another three years left in his term on the existing board.

Mr Nash said Ms Burton should use her discretion to "hire and fire board members".

"I think in the public interest he should stand down. The minister appears determined to have him removed. And I don't think it's appropriate that a sitting TD would continue to remain in a position like that," he said.

Ms Burton says the TD's membership of the board "compromises the effective performance" of it.

She considers it "inappropriate for a board member to be in receipt of remuneration" for being on it as well as getting paid as a TD.

A section of the new Social Welfare Bill, currently passing through the Oireachtas, will mean no TD, senator, MEP or councillor can sit on the board in future.

Irish Independent

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