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Thursday 26 April 2018

Fine Gael TDs turn on Kenny over Cardiff and Vatican Embassy

Party members incensed over closure of Vatican embassy and Cardiff post

Kevin Cardiff: nominated to
European Court of Auditors
Kevin Cardiff: nominated to European Court of Auditors

Fionnan Sheahan and Kevin Keane

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night faced a barrage of criticism from his own TDs over the closure of the Vatican embassy and the appointment of Kevin Cardiff to a plum EU post.

Fine Gael's weekly meeting of ministers, TDs and senators heard the first criticism of the government's decision to close the Holy See Embassy.

Mr Kenny's constituency colleague, John O'Mahony from Mayo, and new TD, Patrick O'Donovan from Limerick, were among the large numbers of backbenchers critical of the decision.

"There were feelings expressed from all over the place. It was sending out the wrong message. Our vote is a traditional vote and we'd better be respectful. It was pretty widespread," a party member said.

Within Fine Gael, there is growing opposition to the decision to close the embassy. The Taoiseach also heard widespread dissent over Mr Cardiff's nomination to the European Court of Auditors.

"Every second speaker gave out about him. Are we trying to put ourselves in the same corner as our predecessors? It was non- stop from all over the country," a party source said.

Mr Kenny is standing by the decision to appoint Mr Cardiff to the EU position, despite his role as Department of Finance secretary general.

Another party TD said: "A lot of the new guys are wary of trouble. They've never been the subject of criticism before. It was the start of the bad times for Fine Gael.

"The Vatican, Cardiff, the banks: judgment wise, what you're getting tonight is they're not making good decisions."

Mr Cardiff will have to appear before a European Parliament committee in a fortnight's time to have his nomination vetted.

Former European Parliament president Pat Cox last night indicated that Mr Cardiff faces a grilling in Brussels before his appointment can be approved.

"The hearings typically are quite lengthy and the issues will get well ventilated and talked through," he said.


"There's no doubt that with the experience he has in the public service, that Kevin Cardiff will give a formidable account of this own background (to the Committee). It remains to be seen then what the political judgment call is."

But Mr Cox, who joined Fine Gael in recent weeks, refused to say whether he thought the government's decision to appoint Mr Cardiff to the European Court of Auditors was appropriate in the light of the €3.6bn miscalculation of the national debt when Mr Cardiff was in the Department of Finance.

"I don't have a position, I am 'Sean-citizen'. I am purely observing it from the sidelines," Mr Cox said.

Irish Independent

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