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Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Consternation' as Kenny gives loyal TD top committee role

Fionnan Sheahan

FINE GAEL leader Enda Kenny will appoint his forestry spokesman as head of a high-powered parliamentary committee scrutinising new EU laws in a controversial move.

After backing Mr Kenny in this year's leadership heave, the party's Kerry South TD Tom Sheahan is being nominated to the €10,000-a-year Oireachtas position.

But the appointment of Fine Gael's deputy agriculture spokesman as chairman of the Oireachtas European Scrutiny committee has caused "consternation" in the party.

It is being seen by some in Fine Gael as reward for Mr Sheahan's loyalty in backing Mr Kenny during the recent leadership contest.

Following the passing of the Lisbon Treaty, the Oireachtas will have a greater role in examining proposed European Union laws and giving Ireland's views.

And the Oireachtas European Scrutiny committee is seen as the frontline for the parliamentary oversight of proposals being drafted in Brussels.

Chairmen of Oireachtas committees are paid an extra €10,000 a year.

Mr Sheahan was previously the party's fisheries spokesman.

His expertise in European Affairs has come as a surprise to some of his party colleagues.

"There's consternation about it. Lisbon gives us more oversight on EU directives," a party source said, maintaining that the position was an extremely important one.

Mr Kenny appears to have overlooked a number of other candidates on the committee including Michael Creed, the newly appointed European Affairs spokesman; Senator Eugene Regan, a former European Commission adviser; and Lucinda Creighton, the former European Affairs spokeswoman.

Irish Independent

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