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Saturday 19 August 2017

Labour gagged MEP who had opposed Cardiff for top EU job

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter and John Drennan

Labour Party bosses gagged a senior MEP who publicly opposed the nomination of embattled Department of Finance chief Kevin Cardiff to the post at the European Court of Auditors.

Nessa Childers has revealed party bosses told her to stop criticising Mr Cardiff and she was warned she could end up being sued over her comments.

Both the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have rallied behind Mr Cardiff, despite a wave of hostility to his appointment from some ministers, back-benchers and MEPs.

With Mr Cardiff due to appear before a European Parliament committee in nine days' time, an increasing number of government TDs have said that Mr Cardiff could not remain at the helm in finance, even if his nomination was rejected.

The Government last night refused to clarify what his position would be should he fail to pass the European committee, saying it remained satisfied Mr Cardiff would be successful.

Ms Childers is adamantly opposed to Mr Cardiff's nomination and was one of a number of government politicians to openly question the wisdom of Mr Cardiff's appointment to the European Court of Auditors last Tuesday.

Asked did she feel the party was attempting to shut her up, Ms Childers replied: "I think the party were very concerned about us saying any more."

Ms Childers was the most vociferous in her opposition to the Cardiff nomination, saying his appointment was totally "inappropriate."

"I felt he was inappropriate even before the €3.6bn incident. In the circumstances of the preceding years and his economic background, where he was during the last few years, he's not appropriate."

Sources close to Mr Cardiff yesterday lashed out at the media and politicians for the "disgraceful witch-hunt" of the €200,000 a year official.

Mr Kenny was "abandoned" by his ministers and allies at a fractious meeting the FG parliamentary party last Wednesday, it has emerged. The Taoiseach was the only speaker to defend the appointment of Mr Cardiff to the EU Court of Auditors, sources said.

Mr Kenny endured his roughest party meeting since becoming Taoiseach.

He was "cross-examined in an utterly hostile fashion" by first-time TDs and senators over the appointment of Mr Cardiff.

"Enda was left all alone holding the baby. No junior minister, no senior minister stood up," a source said.

Those who are believed to have been particularly critical of the decision included a large number of new TDs such as Anthony Lawlor, John Paul Phelan, Tom Barry and veteran TD Bernard Durkan.

Mr Kenny replied: "If you can't deal with this, what good will you be when we have to defend the Budget."

Sunday Independent

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