Saturday 24 February 2018

Dail reform U-turn as FG agrees to pay rebels €9,500

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny brought five party rebels back into the fold last night by giving them €9,500-per-year jobs as chairs of Oireachtas committees.

He had promised two years ago in his party's 'Proposals on Oireachtas Reform' policy that "no allowances will be paid for committee chairperson, vice chairpersons or convenors".

But he has now rowed back on that promise and has given committee chair positions to former rebels who were sidelined by him.

Roscommon South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten, who previously backed Richard Bruton for the leadership of Fine Gael, is set to be appointed chair of the Health committee.

Fine Gael Wicklow TD Andrew Doyle is going to be head of the Agriculture and Communications committee, while Meath West TD Damien English is going to chair the Jobs, Social Protection and Education committee.

Another former Bruton backer, Donegal North East TD Joe McHugh, was named as the Irish co-chairperson of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, which an Oireachtas spokesman confirmed is also a paid position.

The Government has reduced the number of committees from 26 to 16, saying it will save money and make them more efficient in how they work.

And former rebel Clare TD Pat Breen, who is going to be appointed chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, said Mr Kenny had picked the "best team for the job".

"I believe it's part of trying to be inclusive and to bring everybody on board. Enda has always been a very good chair throughout his leadership," he said.

But Fianna Fail chief whip Sean O'Fearrghail said Fine Gael was 'rowing back' on its pledge to scrap payments for committee chairs.

"I think most people would be content to fill a role as chairman without any extra pay. I would see it as part of the job we're elected to do," he said.

A Fine Gael spokesman said last night that Fianna Fail in power had "systematically" used the committee system as a means of financially rewarding TDs. "By reducing the number of committees and halving the chairs' allowances, there has been a dramatic reduction in committee costs," he said.


The payments for committee vice-chairs and convenors were scrapped by the previous Government and Fine Gael then quietly dropped its promise to abolish the chair payments from its 'New Politics' election policy.

Mr Kenny also rewarded four of his supporters during the leadership heave with paid positions on the Oireachtas Commission which supervises the running of the Dail and Seanad.

They are Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Frank Feighan; Limerick County TD Dan Neville; Dublin South Central TD Catherine Byrne; and Senator Tom Sheahan.

The chair of the Justice committee will be Fine Gael Cork East TD David Stanton, and former party chairman Tom Hayes will be chair of the Joint Administrative committee.

Labour is getting to chair four Oireachtas committees.

The chairs will be officially appointed next week when the committees meet for the first time.

Irish Independent

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