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Kenny causes ructions in FF with choice of Kitt for key job

THE appointment of a new Leas Ceann Comhairle caused ructions within Fianna Fail yesterday -- with TDs accusing Taoiseach Enda Kenny of snubbing the man favoured by Micheal Martin for the post.

It is up to the Taoiseach to select a deputy to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, but traditionally the post goes to the opposition.

Wexford TD John Browne had been unanimously nominated by the Fianna Fail parliamentary party but Mr Kenny opted to appoint Galway East FF TD Michael Kitt instead.

However, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern annoyed Fine Gael back in 2007 and 2002 by snubbing Fine Gael and giving the post to Labour. Some FF TDs claimed the appointment of Mr Kitt was an act of revenge.

They claimed Mr Kitt lobbied Mr Kenny, a friend of his since college, and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who comes from east Galway like Mr Kitt.

Mr Kitt will be on the pay scale of a junior minister, which is €41,154 plus his TD's wage of €92,672 -- a total of €133,826. He will also have a driver.

"There's war over this," one FF TD said. "There was a suspicion last week when Fine Gael were dragging their feet over it."

Mr Kitt is the longest-serving Fianna Fail member of the Dail and his appointment as Leas Ceann Comhairle was adopted without debate yesterday.

Mr Kitt said he declared his interest in the job some time ago and lobbied Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore, but had not spoken to them in two weeks.

"I said I was very keen to be there since I was the longest serving member of the party," Mr Kitt said. "I got an offer from Enda Kenny and I was honoured to accept that. I would have spoken to our own party leader and to the leaders of Fine Gael and Labour. I did nothing for the last few weeks. I didn't even know whose call it was."

He said he was unaware of the anger within Fianna Fail and said that "if there is anyone more deserving than me in the length of service I've given, I'd like to hear from them".

But Mr Browne said Mr Kitt never made his interest in the job known to him.

"I would have respected him a lot more if he had done so," he added

"Politics is a tough business, I would have done it another way. I respect democracy in our party and I would expect Micheal Kitt to have done so."

Irish Independent