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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Deenihan appointed ex-councillor to state board a week after she lost seat in elections

Published 30/06/2014 | 02:30

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Jimmy Deenihan: at risk in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle
Jimmy Deenihan: at risk in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle

ARTS Minister Jimmy Deenihan is the latest government minister to appoint a former politician to a state board.

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Mr Deenihan – whose job is in jeopardy in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle – has appointed defeated Labour councillor Jane Dillon-Byrne to a position on the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).

Ms Dillon-Byrne served as a councillor in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown for 40 years, but lost her seat in last month's elections. A week later, on May 30, she was appointed to the IMMA board for a five-year term.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Ms Dillon Byrne's husband, Michael, confirmed her appointment.

However, she was unavailable for comment as she was out of the country on holidays and won't be returning until later this week.

The IMMA board consists of 14 members and a chairperson appointed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for a period of not more than five years.

Members can be asked to serve for a second term, if deemed desirable by the minister.

According to IMMA, only the chairman, Eoin McGonigal, SC, is eligible to receive a fee, set at €8,978, which he has waived since being appointed to the position in 2011. However, vouched expenses are paid to board members in accordance with the guidelines and rules set down by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

A spokesman for Mr Deenihan told the Irish Independent that given her vast experience in the cultural arena, and in the context of overall balance at board level, including gender balance, the minister, after the routine consultation with government partners, made the appointment.

Ms Dillon-Byrne is a described on her profile as a promoter of the arts and is a former member of the arts council, and now on the board of the Pavilion Theatre. She is also a founder member of the Irish Section of Amnesty International.

Yesterday, junior minister Joe Costello defended the appointments of ex-politicians to state boards.

Speaking on RTE's 'The Week in Politics', Mr Costello said that the appointments of former FG TD John Farrelly and Labour by-election candidate Denis Leonard were justified but stressed they would not receive any remuneration in their roles.

Last week, we revealed how Minister Pat Rabbitte quietly appointed the two coalition cronies to the board of Bord na Mona in his final days as a cabinet minister. The appointments were agreed by the Cabinet – but were not publicly announced.

The communications minister staunchly defended his decision, but confirmed the political allegiances of his appointees had "some influence".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also stood over the nominations. Mr Kenny said the appointments of Mr Leonard and Mr Farrelly were merited, as they would bring a "wealth of experience".

Irish Independent

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