It's seen as a crime to be Enda's friend, says new quango chief
THE incoming head of the Western Development Commission has complained that it seems to be a crime to be a friend of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Former Fine Gael councillor Paddy McGuinness (pictured) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Mr Kenny and also headed the Fine Gael strategy committee, which delivered four out of five seats for the party in Mayo in last year's general election.
He was named as the new chair of the Western Development Commission (WDC) by Environment Minister Phil Hogan. But he gave a spirited performance at the Oireachtas Environment committee, which was discussing his forthcoming appointment.
"You probably have read in the papers the negative bits – that I'm a friend of the Taoiseach, which seems to be in certain sectors a crime," he said.
Mr McGuinness promised he would apply himself to the task of developing the seven counties on the western seaboard to the best of his ability.
"At 68 years of age, this is my last chance to make a difference and I'm grateful to be given that chance," he said. Mr McGuinness's appointment is a signal that the Government has no intention of following the recommendation in its own spending review last year to abolish the WDC to save €1.5m per year.
The WDC is based in Ballaghaderreen in Roscommon and has 11 staff.