Saturday 10 December 2016

FF ministers filled nine state posts on their last day in office

Friends and supporters appointed to boards before exit

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

Published 16/04/2011 | 05:00

Former Offaly All-Ireland winning hurler Danny Owens, pictured second from right with former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, says he is well qualified for
his position on the Irish Sports Council and that correct procedures were followed.
Former Offaly All-Ireland winning hurler Danny Owens, pictured second from right with former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, says he is well qualified for his position on the Irish Sports Council and that correct procedures were followed.

OUTGOING Fianna Fail ministers appointed nine people to state boards and quangos on their very last day in office, it has emerged.

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On the eve of Fine Gael and Labour taking over in Government Buildings, Fianna Fail ministers signed off on nine appointments as part of up to 200 appointments made since mid-December.

Even after Fianna Fail suffered the loss of 50 seats on February 25, ministers continued to make appointments ahead of leaving office -- making 17 between election day and their exit from power on March 8.

Of the ministers who made the 17 appointments after the election, only Brendan Smith managed to hold on to his seat. The other ministers -- Mary Hanafin, Pat Carey and Mary Coughlan -- lost their seats.

Since mid-December, when Fianna Fail knew there would be an election in the New Year, up to 200 appointments to state boards were made, according to documents seen by the Irish Independent.

Those given posts included trade union officials, business organisations, civil servants and officials. Others would be considered friends and supporters of Fianna Fail, and some are councillors and former TDs.

On the night before Fine Gael and Labour took over, Fianna Fail made nine appointments, five of whom have connections with the party. Two are councillors, one is a former general election candidate, one is a former councillor and another is a constituency organiser.

Fianna Fail last night defended the appointments, with a spokesman stating all were made "in accordance with procedures".

Councillors Danny Owens and Peter Ormond, for example, have both defended their appointments and said that procedures were followed and that they were qualified for their roles.

But Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald claimed that Fianna Fail had no political authority to make the appointments after voters decided to eject the party from office on February 25.

She stressed she was not casting judgment on the suitability of the appointees but questioning the act of appointing people on the eve of leaving office.

State boards, she said, should not be a "resting place for the cronies of those in political office".

In the case of Danny Owens, a councillor in Offaly who was appointed to the Irish Sports Council, he is entitled to a taxable stipend of €5,985 as well as expenses for serving on the board. Another Offaly councillor, Peter Ormond, will be entitled to €16,000 with An Post.

But some positions carry no payment or expenses.

The 11th-hour appointments right up to March 8 were made despite Fine Gael calling for a moratorium on all appointments to state boards as far back as December.

During the election, Fine Gael pledged to replace the membership of all boards within six months of taking office.

Only two weeks ago, Mr Kenny accused the last Government of making appointments "based on friendship as distinct from merit". And he claimed some of the appointments represented "blatant cronyism".

But legal advice from the Attorney General has now advised these appointments cannot be reversed.

Irish Independent

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