Thursday 29 September 2016

Ross's angry letter to Noonan 'could impair functioning of Cabinet'

Published 12/07/2016 | 02:30

Mr Ross was said to be 'absolutely furious' that the post of vice-president of the EIB was to be handed out without an open competition. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Mr Ross was said to be 'absolutely furious' that the post of vice-president of the EIB was to be handed out without an open competition. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Officials in the Department of Finance are refusing to publicly release an angry letter from Transport Minister Shane Ross amid fears it could damage the already unstable Government.

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Last month, Mr Ross wrote to Finance Minister Michael Noonan to complain that a €270,000 job as vice-president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) was being lined up for a person linked to Fine Gael.

Mr Ross was said to be "absolutely furious" that the major post was to be handed out without an open competition, and members of the Independent Alliance suggested it could lead to a rethink of their position in government.

The EIB is the European Union's bank and provides finance and investment projects in member states.

The letter which the minister sent to his counterpart resulted in the job being publicly advertised.

However, the Department of Finance has refused to reveal the content of the letter as it could "serve to impair the proper functioning of government".

In reply to a Freedom of Information request, officials said that even after the appointment of a vice -president, its publication would not be in the public interest when pitted against the damage it could do to Cabinet relations.

Last week it was announced that, after the vacancy was advertised, the successful candidate was Taoiseach Enda Kenny's economic advisor, Andrew McDowell.

His nomination was not disputed by any of the Independent Alliance - although Sinn Féin did raise questions about the level of pay.

Mr Noonan and the Taoiseach both welcomed the appointment. Mr Kenny said that as his economic and policy adviser, Mr McDowell had "played a vital role in the last Government which guided Ireland out of an international bailout and back on the path to recovery".

He added: "His new role will enable him to shape EIB's policies in the future and I am sure Ireland will continue to avail of optimum levels of EIB investment."

The Taoiseach added that the job would be "a challenge".

Irish Independent

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