Friday 28 April 2017

Shatter gives state post to supporter who donated €1,000

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has appointed a supporter -- who previously donated €1,000 to him -- to a €12,500 part-time state position, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Shatter announced a referendum on judicial pay, as well as releasing a statement on the Magdalene Laundries. But he did not announce the appointment of barrister Oliver Connolly until late last night.

A spokeswoman for Mr Shatter said this was because his office was busy, and the state appointment -- approved by Cabinet yesterday -- slipped down the radar.

Mr Shatter appointed Mr Connolly as "a confidential recipient" of An Garda Siochana, which is a whistleblower's position within the force.

The recipient must be available to receive confidential reports of corruption or malpractice within An Garda Siochana from gardai or civilian employees. It is understood the position has to be filled by a barrister or a solicitor.

Records filed with the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) show Mr Connolly, who is a law lecturer in Trinity College Dublin, donated €1,000 to Mr Shatter in 2007.

A government spokesman claimed the appointment does not fall under the Fine Gael-Labour coalition's much-publicised plans to make sure all potential appointments to state boards are scrutinised by Oireachtas committees.

New procedures for appointing people to boards have already been agreed by the Coalition, and all positions will be now advertised.

Previously, they were mostly appointed by the relevant minister without advertisement.

Reverse

The Government also attempted to reverse state board appointments made in the dying days of the Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition.

But Mr Shatter last night said he was "delighted" with the appointment.

"I am delighted to appoint Oliver J Connolly to this important position," he said. "Any member or civilian employee of An Garda Siochana who wishes to report in confidence about corruption can be assured that any such report will be taken seriously and protections will be given to him or her.

"This Government has placed a high importance on addressing the issue of whistleblowers and further measures in this area will be brought forward. I wish Mr Connolly every success in his new role."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week criticised the practice of appointing friends to state board positions, and said it was something practised by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Mr Kenny's comments came after the Irish Independent revealed two junior ministers had hired two family members each in their departmental staff and that 25 TDs had relatives working for them.

He claimed that Fine Gael pre-election pledges to stamp out cronyism related to appointments to state boards -- and were not about his TDs hiring family members.

He added that the ministerial appointments were "personal appointments, they are not government appointments, they don't have to be approved by Government".

"What I did in respect of cronyism arose out of a question to the previous Taoiseach about appointments to state boards," Mr Kenny said. "Were they made on the basis of competency, merit or friendship? And his answer (was) they were made in many cases on the basis of friendship."

Irish Independent

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