Kenny pushes Cardiff for post
Taoiseach piles pressure on MEPs to give go-ahead for plum position
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore are piling pressure on EU colleagues to push through the controversial appointment of Kevin Cardiff to a plum EU post.
Mr Cardiff, the Department of Finance secretary general could end up appearing before a second hearing of a European Parliament committee.
Mr Cardiff will be quizzed by the committee in a fortnight about his nomination for the post with the European Court of Auditors, which oversees EU finances.
Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore said they had contacted the political groups in the European Parliament to which Fine Gael and the Labour Party are aligned and told them Mr Cardiff has the backing of the Government.
The Government is confident Mr Cardiff's nomination will be ratified by MEPs. Fine Gael is a member of the EPP, the largest group in the European Parliament, and Labour are in the Socialists, the second largest group.
Between them, the Fine Gael and Labour groups hold a substantial majority on the committee and in the European Parliament itself.
Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent he had spoken with EPP President Joseph Daul about the nomination to say Mr Cardiff has the Government's full backing.
He said Mr Cardiff had already answered a series of questions and the committee was entitled to ask whatever it wanted.
"Mr Cardiff's nomination is to be considered by the Budget Control Committee for appointment to the European Court of Auditors," he said.
"I expect him to come through that process and take up his appointment."
Mr Gilmore said it was a matter for the committee to decide. "I have informed the group of which my party is a member in the European Parliament of Mr Cardiff's nomination and that he had the full support of the Government," he said. Ireland's man on the EU court of auditors wished Mr Cardiff well ahead of his grilling by European parliamentarians.
Eoin O'Shea, the Athlone native who has been in the job since 2010, said Mr Cardiff was a "credible" candidate for the post.
The European Parliament cannot block Mr Cardiff's nomination completely, but it can reject it, which would be highly embarrassing.
The parliament has given the thumbs down to nominees before. In that case, the Government would have to consider ramming the nomination through via an EU finance ministers meeting. The chairman of the committee said any nominee could be called back for a second hearing.
Dutch MEP Jan Mulder said he would await the answers from Mr Cardiff at the hearing before making any comment on his candidacy.
"I have heard about him. He is going to be treated in the same way as any candidate. Every member is allowed to ask him whatever they want. At the end there is a secret ballot," he said.
"It is possible we can have a second hearing."
The chairman is a member of the Liberal group, to which Fianna Fail is aligned.