News John Downing

Monday 24 October 2016

David Begg may be the best person for the position, but way he was appointed is unacceptable

Published 15/01/2016 | 02:30

David Begg. Photo: Damien Eagers
David Begg. Photo: Damien Eagers

Joan Burton has shown herself to be a 'do-as-I-say-woman' over David Begg's appointment as chairman of the Pensions Authority. It would appear transparency in public appointments are for other parties, not Labour.

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As long as you appoint the right person, you can use the exclusion clause to set aside procedures, put in after considerable controversy, and appoint the person you want.

At best, it smacks of woolly thinking - at worst it seems like sheer arrogance.

Former ICTU boss Mr Begg is very likely among the best people for this job - if not the best person. But the way his appointment was done is not acceptable - and the point is very far from being pedantic. It is fundamental to achieving changes for the better in Irish governance.

Ireland's economic collapse from 2008-2010 was contributed to in large part by very poor corporate governance. The blurring of boundaries and lack of set procedures meant a lethal lack of supervision across our banking and financial system. It was also apparent in construction, planning and other sectors.

Fine Gael and Labour promised us a very different type of politics, which, they insisted, was an essential part of mending our busted economy and avoiding a repeat of calamity in the future.

We would have procedures to ensure cronyism would no longer be the order of the day, especially in the matter of public appointments.

In September 2014 we got a clear indication that all was not well in these matters. Fine Gael appointed a Seanad by-election candidate, John McNulty from Donegal, to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, to boost his cultural credentials.

At the time, Ms Burton tried to put some distance between her party and Fine Gael on the issue.

"My preference and the Labour Party's preference is that we would have appointments to State Boards via the mechanism of the public appointments service," Ms Burton said.

Clearly, that was then - and this is now.

Irish Independent

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