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FF TD gets to chair top Dail committee

Fianna Fail’s John McGuinness has won the race to chair the influential Public Accounts Committee.

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 had 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 wanted Shane Ross in the chair.

The Fine Gael-Labour coalition has nine TDs on the 13-member PAC.

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 sat this afternoon for the first time in the new Dail to elect the new chair, who gets an extra €9,500 on top of a TD's basic salary of around €92,000.

The decision went to the wire.

Said Shane Ross, before the vote: "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.

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