Saturday 16 December 2017

Dail committee to meet as chairmanship row still unresolved

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE row over who will get to chair the Dail's most prestigious committee had still not been settled last night, even though the committee is scheduled to begin sitting for the first time today.

The chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee -- which keeps an eye on state spending -- has traditionally gone to the largest opposition party.

But a spat has erupted between Fianna Fail, the biggest opposition party, and the technical group over who should get the post.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has already nominated Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness, while the technical group wants Shane Ross in the chair.

The Fine Gael-Labour coalition has nine TDs on the 13-member PAC, so it will be able to vote for either Mr Ross or Mr McGuinness.

Neither of the government parties can nominate one of their own members as chair because this would be seen as impacting on the watchdog's independence.

The PAC will sit this afternoon for the first time in the new Dail to elect a new chair and vice-chair and the chairman of the committee gets an extra €9,500 on top of a TD's basic salary of around €92,000.

Labour whip Emmet Stagg said the appointment is now a matter for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who are likely to tell their TDs who to back later today.

Mr Ross said that it is up to the government parties to decide who will get the post.

"It's then up to the Government and they haven't made their minds up yet," the Dublin South TD said.

"Labour are telling me it's Fine Gael and Fine Gael are telling me it's Labour. Their kind of instinct is to give to Fianna Fail."

Mr Ross said it had been the convention to give the position to the main opposition party, but said this should no longer been the case since Fianna Fail is a "minority opposition party".

Mr Ross said he had spoken to some cabinet ministers about the appointment and claimed they were "supportive but non committal" of his candidacy.

Irish Independent

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