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Healy-Rae rejects call to give up board position

INDEPENDENT TD Michael Healy-Rae last night defied calls from Social Protection Minister Joan Burton for him to give up a state board position -- and insisted he would hold on to the post for as long as he could.

Ms Burton wrote to Mr Healy-Rae asking him to resign from his post with the Citizens Information Board (CIB), a position given to him by the last government.

The Irish Independent previously revealed that controversial TD Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae were each given three positions on state boards to hand out to supporters, as part of a secret deal struck with Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.

Michael Healy-Rae, who succeeded his father as a TD for South Kerry in the general election, has consistently denied his appointment was part of any deal struck by his father.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011 -- published recently by Ms Burton -- bans sitting politicians from being members of the CIB.

However, the bill will not affect Mr Healy-Rae's current membership of the board which will run until 2014, since it will not apply retrospectively.

Ms Burton wrote to Mr Healy-Rae in recent weeks asking to give up his position, but the Kerry South TD last night insisted he wouldn't.

"I have two questions for the minister," Mr Healy-Rae said. "Am I not doing my job properly? And who does she want the position for?

"I'm not drawing any expenses for it since I became a member of the Dail."

Records show Mr Healy-Rae received almost €10,000 from CIB in fees and expenses in 2010, before he became a TD.

He also challenged Ms Burton, asking if she had the authority to remove him from the CIB -- which she doesn't -- and said he was "going nowhere".

"I'm going to hold on to the position for as long as I can," he said, adding that he was a "respectable, hard-working politician".

Irish Independent