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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Allen likely for board job

Ex-Fine Gael Minister looks a shoo-in for plum Sports Council role


FORMER Fine Gael Minister Bernard Allen is on the verge of being appointed to the board of the Irish Sports Council.

His appointment, if ratified as expected by Cabinet, will lead to accusations of cronyism -- something Taoiseach Enda Kenny vowed to stamp out during the election campaign.

And in a further blow to the Government's promise to end the culture of "jobs for the boys" former Fine Gael general election candidate and founder of O'Briens Irish Sandwich Bars Brody Sweeney has been appointed to the board of Bord Bia.

When asked if Mr Sweeney's appointment to the board related to his Fine Gael links, a spokesperson for Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that it was entirely on merit. Members of the board of Bord Bia receive just under €12,000 a year plus expenses for their work.

The expected appointment of Mr Allen will also raise eyebrows. When contacted yesterday he said that he had not been informed he was to be made a member of the Sports Council but admitted he "had aspirations" to join the board.

In 2009 board members waived their annual fees of €10,500. However, council members can expect to be invited to a wide range of sports events and it is considered a plum appointment -- especially with the Olympics in London taking place next year.

Mr Allen, a long-serving Fine Gael TD, did not stand in the last general election. Mr Allen's retirement package includes a TD's pension of just under €50,000, plus an additional Minister of State's pension of €10,900.

He was also entitled to a pension lump sum of approximately €160,000, along with a series of termination payments and a termination lump sum. Between 1994 and 1997 he was Junior Minister at the Department of Education with responsibility for Youth and Sport, essentially Ireland's first sports minister, and played a crucial role in the establishment of the Sports Council. Former Olympic runner John Treacy has been chief executive since it was established.

The vacancy at the Sports Council arises from the resignation of champion runner Eamon Coughlan, who has been appointed to the Senate.

Earlier this year the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, pledged to advertise all vacancies on State Boards within his remit and he sought expressions of interest from any person who considered themselves suitable for such roles.

Sunday Independent

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